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In the midst of COVID-19, social distancing and working from home have become the norm. However, for many of us, this still doesn’t register as “normal.” So, when the work day draws to a close, it’s important we care for our mental health and sanity by connecting with others. 

Staying indoors doesn’t mean abandoning our social lives. While there are books to read and shows to binge, for your quarantainment, here are five ways to stay connected with friends and family.

Host a Virtual Happy Hour

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, so gather the pals for the happiest of hours at quittin’ time. Zoom, Google Hangouts, and FaceTime allow you to chat with multiple people. Prop up your device on the coffee table, and get cozy with your beverage of choice as you swap stories of your days in isolation. If you’re feeling saucy, whip up a Quarantini. 

Ingredients: 

  • 3 oz. vodka or gin
  • 2 oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 packet of orange-flavored vitamin C drink (such as Emergen-C)

Recipe:

  • Combine the ingredients with a generous cup of ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a martini glass and garnish with a twist of lemon peel. 

Play Marco Polo (No Pool Needed)

If you haven’t downloaded the Marco Polo app yet, what are you doing? Grab your phone and get it now. I’ll wait…. OK, ready? Let’s continue. 

This video conversation app is the answer to the I-really-want-to-FaceTime-but-I-have-to-homeschool-the-kids predicament. It’s a walkie talkie for video. Leave messages for your friends and family and watch their responses on your own time. Chat back and forth with your sister or gather the whole gang into a group. Unlike Snapchat, these videos don’t disappear, so you can keep the conversation rolling.

Get in the Game

Because convening over a board game doesn’t bode well for the 6-feet-away rule, gather around your monitor to host a virtual game night. Many popular board games, including Settlers of Catan and Monopoly, are available to play online, for free. 

You can also challenge your loved ones (and spice up your text messages) with virtual games using the Game Pigeon iMessage extension. Already included in the latest iPhones, this app lets you play classic favorites like Battleship, Scrabble, Checkers, and 8-ball pool via iMessage. 

Sweat it Out

The gym may be closed, but that’s no excuse not to get your sweat on. Regular exercise boosts endorphins and strengthens your immune system—both are necessities for fighting off illness and a nasty case of the shelter-in-place blues. 

Many fitness studios are hosting free workouts on IGTV, Facebook Live, and YouTube—no equipment needed. Bodyweight moves, including yoga flows and plyometric sets, will give you a healthy glow while you blast calories and strengthen your muscles.

Challenge a friend and FaceTime during the sweat sesh, join a Zoom yoga class, or check in on your workout buddy once you finish. Accountability is everything.

Remember You're Not Alone

Though we may be apart, we’re in this together. Make a point to shoot a Good morning! text or Slack message to a coworker, friend, or family member before you begin your work, or a Goodnight farewell sign-off before bed. Share inspiration by sending positive quotes to your pals. Check in on those who are more at-risk—like Grandma—or drop a “just because” card in the mail. 

A simple yet thoughtful reminder they’re loved may be just what your loved ones need to brighten their day.

Words by Avery Johnson