The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world and how we do things. Socializing with others changed drastically at the beginning; the things we used to do before weren’t as readily doable, but that never meant we should stop socializing with friends. It’s extremely important that we get human interaction on a regular basis to maximize the emotional, physical, mental, and psychological benefits. Socialization is key because it teaches us decision-making and impulse control, while group interactions help with conscience development and real-life scenario experiences. Socialization is a vital component of what makes us human!
Whether you’re an outdoorsy athlete, a social butterfly, or an academically focused student, there are many social opportunities to be enjoyed as the pandemic continues. And although it seems like we’re nearly past it, not everyone has been vaccinated and new strains keep popping up. So how can you keep in touch with your friends in a safe way?
COVID-19 spreads less outdoors with fresh air circulating compared to being indoors. It’s easier to be six feet apart outside too—we all know this. If you choose to meet up with a friend, suggest an outdoor setting. Arrange a park picnic date, a walk around the neighborhood, a hike, outdoor seating at restaurants, or an outdoor sport. Sports such as tennis, yoga, and volleyball or throwing a football or frisbee have limited contact. Embrace the summer weather: long, sunny days and cool, laid-back evenings are perfect for outdoor hangouts! You could even create a weekly schedule to meet with a friend outside. And if you know which friends are vaccinated, you can feel more comfortable keeping them in your immediate circle.
Related: How to Stay Active During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Write a letter
Say goodbye to texting and pull out a colorful pen and pretty paper. Yes, it’s old fashioned, but this form of communication can be new and exciting to you and your friends. With letters, there’s no timetable, no read receipts, no screenshots—just pure communication. Right now, a lot of things are still virtual—work, school, parties, etc.—so this change of pace can be interesting. You can write letters to friends, extended family, or grandparents. You can serve your community and write thank-you letters to workers at the hospital, police department, fire department, nursing homes, libraries, schools, and more. Whether you’re a writer or an artist, communicating your thoughts and feelings on paper is satisfying—and you might even get the thrill of walking to the mailbox and getting a letter in return!
Change up your video calls
Facetime, Skype, Zoom—whatever platform you choose, take the time to video call a friend. While this may seem like an obvious choice since we’ve been doing it for a while, there are ways to spice it up! Call a friend you don’t talk to often. Call two different friends to introduce them. Make a call to watch a movie or do spa treatments together with before and after pictures! Play a virtual board game or a video game. You can cook, do charades, play GamePigeon, paint, work out, or even do crossword puzzles together. With the variety of virtual options, the fun never has to end!
Related: 5 Ways to Make a Difference During the Pandemic
Attend a virtual event
Because of the pandemic, many events became virtual, with video platforms used as solutions to problems people faced during lockdown. Find these valuable virtual events to fill your time! You could join or even start a virtual book club, take online education courses, or participate in support groups, exercise clubs, art courses, cooking classes, and more. Reach out to some friends and you could join a virtual event together.
The pandemic has been difficult for many different groups of people. Find a friend and a venue where you can make a positive, lasting impact on your community, even online. Volunteering will give you a better sense of purpose and direction in this confusing time. The bonds you create with a friend and others while making a difference together will be priceless. You don’t have to show up in person to volunteer with the United Nations, Smithsonian, Zooniverse, Be My Eyes, Create the Good, Career Village, Empower Work, and more. Find a platform that you and your friends are inspired by and sign up!
Related: Great Opportunities for Students to Volunteer Online
Send a care package
You may not get to see your friends every day in school anymore, especially now that it’s summer. They could be going through a hard time, so try creating a customized care package and drop it off at their house. Fill a basket with their favorite snacks, books, pictures, decorations, games, and a letter. Be creative! Then have them do a video of the opening reveal. The care and consideration you put in will strengthen your connection with your friend, and they will surely appreciate it.
Do a wellness challenge
With all the spare time we’ve had during the pandemic, we should seek to better ourselves. You and your friends can bond over the struggles and the benefits of a wellness challenge, and there are so many online. You can find health challenges, fitness challenges, intellectual challenges, and more! Find one you think you and your friends will benefit from the most, then make sure everyone keeps each other accountable.
Related: A Student’s Guide to Moving Forward in a Pandemic
The pandemic doesn’t have to be about the hardships we face. Rather, we should use this time to reach the next level socially with our creativity. It’s important to remember that everyone has different safety and comfort levels. Before you meet up with a friend, be clear about the itinerary and the precautions you both need to take. This pandemic has brought a variety of challenges, and socializing is one of the key ones. Think of it as a "long-distance relationship": your friendship can’t rely on physical contact, so you have to find a new way to connect. All it takes is some creativity and optimism to overcome the challenge of socializing during this strange time.
For more helpful advice and information as the pandemic continues, check out our COVID-19 student resources page.