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Never before has our society been in such an unprecedented position as with this COVID-19 pandemic. It is a trying time with the CDC requesting us to maintain a minimum of 6 feet social distancing and the “stay at home” order currently in affect in Louisiana.  As a social work student interning at Sage Outpatient Services, my experience has radically changed in ways I could not have fathomed 3 weeks ago.  Working remotely from home and having to remain isolated from others is a challenge that I never imagined.

 

While it has been nice to be at home and have some “me time”, it has also been incredibly stressful.  Boredom can set in very quickly and it is very easy to become overwhelmed by this new circumstance.  Staying at home to slow the progression is vitally important, but I will be the first to admit, it can come with mentally straining affects. Social distancing for me has brought out frustration, fear, tension, and overall feelings of being disconnected from not being able to see my loved ones in person.  We want to be close to our loved ones and come together to face adversity, but this COVID-19 crisis just does not allow this.

 

So I asked myself, what can we do to stay connecting during this difficult time of social distancing?  I have come up with 5 tips that could be helpful in keeping us all connected.

Host Video/Virtual Chats, Parties, or Clubs

Video calling from the safety of your home is a great way to see and hear those people who you are missing.  This can be done from your phone, laptop, or computer through easy to use apps such as Facetime, Skype, Zoom or Google-Meet.  It can very helpful to develop weekly routines of video chatting with loved ones to promote social support and fend off feelings of isolation.

You could also become involved in virtual clubs and parties.  Netflix is offering Netflix Party as a new way to watch movies with your friends. Netflix Party synchronizes video playback and adds group chat to your favorite Netflix shows to link up with friends and host long distance movie nights!

You can get creative by starting a virtual club unique to you and your friends!  This is another great way to connect with others through mutual interest.  You could create your own virtual book club that meets on regular basis via video chat or telephone.  The East Baton Rouge Parish Library is offering free digital access to eBooks, movies, magazines, music, etc.

Engage in Social Media

Social media allows us stay connected, whether it is through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. We can use social media platforms to share ideas, support, and build connections with others who may live miles away from us!

We should, however, be cautious of social media for false or exaggerated information, especially related to COVID-19 virus. It is important not to be influenced by potential misinformation that could cause unneeded confusion or stress.  Sage Outpatient’s Facebook page has information on events in the clinic and links to educational and exercise videos.

Participate in Spiritual Services

Many churches are starting to have an increase presence online to spread love and messages of hope to their congregation. Engaging in virtual church is a great way to connect with others on a more spiritual level during hard times. You can contact your personal church directly to discern whether they are offering virtual services or google ‘virtual online church.

Join a Support Group

Many support groups are meeting via telecommunications. For example, Grief Speak is a service offered by Louisiana Hospice & Palliative Care to access phone or video meetings with bereavement counselors. In this time of social distancing when we are feeling such a loss of connection, Grief Speak is available, if you feel you don’t have anyone else to talk to, whether that be in a private or group session. Each interactive presentation is 20-30 minutes in length on the second Tuesday of each month at 6 or 8 PM.  Sage Outpatient is also offering both their stroke and spinal cord injury support group virtually at this time.

Creatively Communicate with Others

Technology can have a huge impact in keeping us socially connected, but what about those without access to technology or needing a break from it? Letters are an excellent way to communicate in a more traditional way. Other options include taking walks with your neighbor or engaging in hobbies while maintaining social distancing.

These tips will be helpful during this uncertain time to better connect emotionally and mentally, even when we are separated physically. It is important to support each other through COVID-19 crisis. I hope that these ideas can help your social distancing efforts to prevent social isolation.

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