Americans are experiencing elevated levels of depression, anxiety, fear and social isolation during the pandemic, according to recent data from Healthline.
This is truly an unprecedented time, and the path forward remains unknown. Medical experts, scientists, researchers and government and business leaders continue their efforts to make sense of the coronavirus, figure out how to get it under control and eventually rid the nation and world of its negative health, economic and social impacts.
In the meantime, while it’s critical to obey the shelter-in-place orders and protect our physical health, it’s equally important to safely maintain personal connections amid the pandemic to protect our mental and emotional health. Following are four ways to do just that.
While many of us are on Zoom or other types of video conference calls throughout the week for work, which can be exhausting, taking some extra time to connect with family and friends over video is time well spent. Being able to both see our loved ones and hear their voices in real time is the best alternative to seeing them in person. It’s a chance to express our feelings, share what’s happening in our lives, laugh and simply enjoy one another’s company as if we were actu-ally together.
Scheduling weekly video chats or whatever frequency works for all parties involved provides something to look forward to and the opportunity to lean on those we’re closest to on a regular basis and during a time when we need it most.
Socially distanced walks
Going on socially distanced walks with one or two close friends who have been diligent about sheltering in place – as long as everyone stays 6 feet apart and wears masks – can be another way to stay in touch during these challenging times. Walking enables us to enjoy in-person connection with people outside of our immediate families or people we’re in quarantine with, in a safe way. It helps us feel as if we’re not alone and that others may be going through some of the same challenges we might be facing.
It’s also a nice way to get some fresh air and exercise outside. However, it’s very important to stay on streets, trails or paths that aren’t crowded. Not only should we practice social distancing from our friends, but also from passersby.
Small neighborhood gatherings, from afar
Depending on where you live, it may be possible to stay in your own front yard or driveway and still engage and talk with neighbors from afar. Everyone should still consider wearing masks and maintaining their distance, but it can make your immediate surroundings feel more normal and less isolated.
And for those of us who have kids, they could each play with their own toys, bikes, scooters, skateboards or other outdoor sports equipment, but still interact with one another and create some fun, socially distanced games in the neighborhood.
The key is to limit the total number of people out at one time, but a few households could easily interact safely from their own properties.
Calls and texts
If you don’t have the means to do video chats, can’t go outside regularly or don’t feel safe interacting with others outside your family and home right now, you always have the ability to talk on the phone or text with others. Group texts with family members, friends from college and co-workers can result in lively conversations that help all maintain a sense of humor and camaraderie, as well as lift everyone’s spirts during these difficult times.
Reena Vokoun is founder and CEO of the Los Altos-based Passion Fit, a health, wellness and fitness lifestyle company. Passion Fit offers fitness and dance classes via Zoom 9-10 a.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. For more information, visit passionfit.com.