Family cycling in the woods

6 Ways to Safely Socialize Amid COVID

Pandemic fatigue is a real thing. In fact, it's not only real; it can be dangerous. We are all tired of the coronavirus and the strain it puts on our daily life in this pandemic.

But when we let our guards down, that is when the virus can strike. It is important to stay vigilant, even as the COVID vaccines are being distributed.

But that does not mean you can't have fun and socialize during this pandemic. We just have to think of new ways to stay connected with the ones we love and enjoy ourselves.

Rethinking Socializing During the Coronavirus

One issue with pandemic fatigue is that our old ways of socializing don't fit neatly into this new life. In the summer, it was easier. You could dine at a restaurant outside on the patio or gather with friends in the yard. We could carry on with the old ways with just a few minor adjustments.

In the winter, we need some new approaches to socializing during COVID, particularly as the holidays near. Here are some ideas for socializing safely:

1. Spend One-on-One Time With Friends

The efficiency and fun of gathering in groups may be one of the things we need to let go of for the time being.

Instead, schedule more frequent, one-on-one outings with friends in safe settings. They will likely be shorter than group events, so finding the time may not be so difficult. As always, maintain six feet of distance and wear masks when you can't.

As coronavirus cases rise, this is not the time to expand your social bubble. If you'd like to reach out to those you haven't seen in a while, consider virtual meet-ups.

2. Get Outside

Of course, getting outside is not new advice. From what we know about how the coronavirus spreads, it's clear that outside is better than inside.

And while there are some COVID-safe winter activities we can do in groups, the key to enjoying outdoor socializing during the cold weather might be to scale it back.

Go on walks or runs with one friend at a time while adhering to all of the usual coronavirus prevention measures. Exercise will keep you warmer than standing around at a yard party!

And you will have the opportunity to explore new places, like a sculpture garden or a park you've never been to. Take a hike in the woods or just enjoy your own neighborhood.

For Kids: Maybe that friend you walk with is your own child. It is certainly safer to walk with someone from your own household. If you do choose to walk with your child and their friend(s), be sure to enforce mask-wearing and social distancing.

3. Make Some Video Calls

Early on, many of us may have been put off by video-conferencing gatherings. Maybe there was a video free-for-all of our craziest relatives talking over each other as we squinted at the tiny blocks on the screen to figure out who was talking. No wonder we're experiencing pandemic fatigue!

It doesn't have to be like that. For one, the pandemic has taught people to better (ahem, more politely) navigate larger video gatherings.

But also, shorter calls with one or two people can provide that connection we crave. If you use a mobile phone, you can reverse the camera and show off your latest home-improvement project, cooking achievement or holiday decorations.

For Kids: Kids who are in online school may balk at more screen time, particularly with relatives or others they don't know well. Try to be sensitive to what each child needs: Facilitate video chats with friends if they want it or hold back on pushing family video chats.

4. Try Some Old-Fashioned Communication

One of the many beauties of writing letters is that there is no scheduling involved. You write when you have time; recipients read them when they do.

The thoughts that you write are always a bit different from the things you might say, which can add a different perspective to your conversations.

For some, there is a particular kind of fun to physically writing or receiving a letter, but emails can also unite you with far-flung friends.

Also, touching base via text or phone can fill that social void. Perhaps, at the beginning of the week, make a list of 3-5 people you want to reach out to. Make a plan for what that will entail, whether it's a letter, phone, text or video chat.

For Kids: Old-fashioned letter writing is a great activity for kids in virtual school. It gives them an opportunity to practice handwriting, which may not be happening in school, and the fun of walking the letter to the mailbox and receiving mail back.

5. Enjoy Real-Life Activities Gone Virtual

When the pandemic started, it seemed like everything was canceled, but then people got creative! So many of the things we used to do in person we can do virtually now. This includes:

  • Book clubs or any kind of club
  • Support groups
  • Meditation sessions
  • Yoga and exercise classes
  • Telemedicine and counseling
  • Trivia nights
  • Cooking and art classes
  • Singing in a choir
  • Weddings, funerals and birthday parties

If you weren't part of any clubs or groups before the pandemic, reach out to friends to learn what they are doing or use social media to find activities.

For Kids: If the activities that your kids were part of before the pandemic aren't meeting virtually, reach out to the leaders to see if you can help organize a virtual meeting. Even if the kids can't do the same core activities remotely, like sports, the social interaction would be welcome.

6. Play Online Games or Do Virtual Activities Together

You don't have to be a gamer to enjoy some online games and activities with friends. Interactive games can be as simple as the mobile app Words With Friends. Or you could organize an online game night using video-conferencing with these games to play on Zoom.

In addition to games, you can use chat or text to enjoy some virtual activities with friends. Teleparty (formerly Netflix Party) lets you watch television with your friends online.

For Kids: Kids probably don't need a lot of help finding online activities, but parents will want to keep on top of what they're doing online (and with whom).

Reviewed on 12/17/2020.

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