Submitted Date 04/15/2020

Day after day, as weeks turn to months, the stay-at-home orders meant to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the US gets extended and expands to more areas. Social distancing is currently the best way to keep your community safe from transmission of the novel Coronavirus. But the isolation and loss of contact can cause a significant strain on your mental health.

Here are 5 ways you can stay connected with those you care most about to keep your mind healthy and your social needs fulfilled.

1. Face Time
Instead of texting or even talking, make sure to get some screen time with your friends and family. You can use FaceTime, Skype, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Zoom and other video call/conference apps. It is okay to message first to schedule a time good for everyone in advance. If you or they are essential workers or working from home and don't have open availability, you'll want to connect when everyone has free time. Try not to interrupt anyone's day.

2. Digital Dates
Dates aren't just for romance. Dating during social isolation will mean a lot more video calls, but you can schedule a time to connect with anyone; family, friends, and co-workers included. But if you do meet someone special, take this time to really get to know them, no filter.

3. Happy Hour
Set a time that you and your friends can get together and reconnect, gossip and sip some wine; or a virgin drink if you don't indulge. Laugh, share, and support each other through your individual and common challenges.

4. Game Nights
Schedule a fun night with friends and family and play a game that can translate across internet connections. Games similar to Heads Up, Charades, Password and the like work well with this setup.

5. Group Gaming
MMO (massively multiplayer online) or standard multiplayer online games have been a way for people separated by great distanced to connect in a shared gaming space for a long time. Here you can play cards, word games, board games, or aid each other in more open worlds.

There is a price to pay for doing your civic duty and protecting yourself and your loved ones from the life threatening Coronavirus. But you don't have to lose touch during the pandemic. Keep in touch with loved ones and find creative ways to send support and receive the connection you need.

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