The coronavirus pandemic has radically changed the face of social gatherings. Individuals are now encouraged to stay home and avoid contact with others as much as possible. This becomes increasingly difficult as the pandemic wears on, leaving many to question how we can maintain our social circles safely.
It's important for each individual to assess their own risk carefully. Those with certain health conditions should be more cautious. Individuals living in densely populated areas likely experience a higher risk of exposure and may need to avoid social contact more vigilantly than those in rural populations. With this in mind, here are some tips for socializing safely in the pandemic.
A study of more than 1,200 contacts infected with COVID-19 found that only one person was infected outside. That individual explained that they were in close contact with the other person for more than 15 minutes. This study indicates that meeting outdoors may be safer than gathering inside. It's also easier to practice social distancing outside, enjoying the company of others without stepping inside each person's 6-foot bubble. Try:
- A social-distancing walk, staying 6 feet apart or walking on opposite sides of the road.
- A picnic with chairs spaced apart and individual meals that each person brings from home.
Keep Your Circle Small
Eliminating social contact presents numerous challenges, not the least of which are to our mental health. The Well Being Trust and The Robert Graham Center suggest that as many as 75,000 people could die from suicide or drug and alcohol misuse as a result of the stresses experienced during the pandemic. To prevent people from becoming dangerously isolated, some have recommended expanding social circles to include a few close contacts. Consider:
- Making an agreement with one other family to socialize exclusively with each other.
- Partnering with one other individual for intimacy if you're single.
Explore Virtual Options
The safest way to socialize is always virtually. Implement online tools as much as possible. You're probably familiar with Zoom and similar video conferencing programs that let you chat and collaborate with multiple friends or family members at once. However, this is just one option. You could also:
- Use the Netflix Party extension to binge your favorite shows at the same time while you chat on the phone.
- Try an online video reading rather than an in-person reading.
Practice Smart Safety Measures
Any time you choose to interact with people outside your household, it's advisable to use smart strategies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. This includes wearing masks, washing hands, and practicing social distancing. Some other things you can do include:
- Encouraging visitors to bring their own food and drinks so you don't handle common utensils.
- Sanitizing high-touch surfaces, like remote controls, gaming controllers, doorknobs, and light switches, after having visitors.
Whether you're planning a socially distanced backyard visit or remotely reaching out to an intuitive psychic, there are many ways that you can combine common sense and creativity to remain social during the pandemic.