When a pandemic like COVID-19 is at large, meeting friends can suddenly become difficult. There may be official restrictions, and you may have your own shielding concerns, too, making social engagements of any kind tricky or even impossible. If you're in this situation, you'll probably be missing the company of your friends and loved ones, and maybe feeling a little lonely, but fortunately there are plenty of alternative ways to stay in touch and keep your social life buzzing.
Here are seven ways you could be making more of:
Make the most of your phone or laptop screen for virtual meet-ups. Thanks to today's video-calling scope, you can meet face to face with whoever you like, wherever they may be, provided all parties have appropriate gadgets, apps and Internet access in place. With a live video facility such as Zoom or Skype, you can see all your friends and family members as usual, or almost, even if you're self-isolating. Show them around your home, and take a peek at theirs, or turn the screen around so
they can share your view from the window. Perhaps you have new purchases to show them, or some creation or skill you'd like to show off. Get together for virtual music-making, comedy sketches, communal keep-fit routines and other social activities. Your social life could take off like never before this way.
If you're happier chatting without a screen link, use your phone in the conventional way, without the visual aspect. Bear in mind, too, that some of your friends or relatives may prefer this option, as video calls don't suit everyone. There's nothing like the sound of a familiar human voice in your ear to bring the warmth and cheer of company, so why not phone around your circle every day, to swap news, thoughts and feelings? Chances are your friends and relatives will be as glad of the contact as you are.In fact, if you know of anyone who may be feeling lonely at the moment, maybe put them at the top of your list.
Stand in your open doorway or window to chat with neighbors and visiting friends at a distance, where feasible. If safe distances can't be achieved or maintained, communicate through a closed window instead. But don't be embarrassed to ask whoever is outside to step back and keep a safe distance, while there are dangerous germs about. They should be as concerned as you are to avoid catching or spreading the disease, for everyone's sake. With your safety checks in place, you can enjoy long, relaxed, ad hoc chats this way, and organised meet-ups, too. If your visitors can provide their own refreshments, to save passing germs through touch, you can share a coffee or something stronger together, or nearly together.
Depending on current rules in your area for pandemic control, you may be free to meet people at a set distance. If so, make the most of your nearest open space for social gatherings, taking care to follow all the safety regulations. You may be required to wear a mask, for instance, and to keep two metres or more from other people, and you'll also need to avoid spreading or picking up germs through touch, but when you get into the swing of these rules, you'll find you can relax and have fun.But while taking care yourself, be sure to keep your mates up to the mark, too: they may need the odd reminder.
Text or message your friends and acquaintances, for quick, casual contact. Set the ball rolling for quick fire exchanges, by sharing thoughts, photos, questions and comments, with individuals or selected groups. This is a great way to keep relationships strong and social life buzzing. Make use of texting options to organise more substantial meet-ups, whether virtual or just socially distanced. For longer, fuller communications, email will serve well. Start up online letter correspondence with those among your friends who enjoy reading and writing.
Maximize the great socializing opportunities afforded by social media to keep in touch with your contacts. Build up your following and rekindle past links, getting involved in discussions, video-sharing and more along the way. Look up old acquaintances, colleagues and relatives you haven't contacted for a while for catch-up chats on shared platforms, or join an interest group to combine friendship with the pursuit of a favorite topic.
Remember you can send a traditional letter or card to someone at any time. You can order stamps, writing-paper and cards online, so you won't need to leave your home to do this, except to pop the envelope in the nearest mailbox. Your recipient will be touched to receive this hold-in-the-hand communication from you, and may send you one back, too. This is a particularly good way to keep in touch with elderly friends and relatives, who may not be at ease using Internet options. Keeping in touch with people during a pandemic may take a little organising at first, but it's perfectly doable, and in all sorts of ways. Make the most of all the many options available to maintain a full and rewarding social life, while keeping the door firmly shut on dangerous germs.