Health and Healthcare Systems

Coronavirus: 5 ways to stay (virtually) social and make the best of isolation

Naomi and her husband Doug Hassebroek enjoy a happy hour and cheers friends and family from their home using Zoom to connect digitally at the end of their first Friday working from home due to concerns over the rapid spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., March 20, 2020 Coronavirus china virus health healthcare who world health organization disease deaths pandemic epidemic worries concerns Health virus contagious contagion viruses diseases disease lab laboratory doctor health dr nurse medical medicine drugs vaccines vaccinations inoculations technology testing test medicinal biotechnology biotech biology chemistry physics microscope research influenza flu cold common cold bug risk symptomes respiratory china iran italy europe asia america south america north washing hands wash hands coughs sneezes spread spreading precaution precautions health warning covid 19 cov SARS 2019ncov wuhan sarscow wuhanpneumonia  pneumonia outbreak patients unhealthy fatality mortality elderly old elder age serious death deathly deadly

Virtual connections are more important than ever before. Image: REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs

Darren Thackeray
Writer, Formative Content
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  • Virtual gatherings and online study are some ways to keep busy.
  • Advice to deal with COVID-19 is now to practice social distancing where possible.
  • The elderly and vulnerable have been asked to self-isolate at home in many countries.
  • Some nations have banned social gatherings, advising everybody to stay at home.
  • With 1 in 3 adults already lonely, virtual connections are more important than ever.

Governments around the world are asking citizens to socially distance themselves from one another, to stop the spread of COVID-19.

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While the World Health Organization makes clear why we need to stay away from one another, confining yourself to home is no easy task. Loneliness is already a social health crisis itself, with roughly 1 in 3 adults experiencing it to some degree.

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So what can you do to stay connected and make the best of isolation? Here are 5 ideas to help.

1. Throw your own film festival

Who says you need to be in the same room as someone to enjoy a film with them? Technology has already addressed this, and there’s never been a better time to take advantage. You can playback video at the same time, mute to discuss key plot points, and even enjoy a meal or drink together while you watch. Netflix has introduced Netflix Party, which allows users to link up with friends and host long-distance movie nights.

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2. Keep to a routine

With many of us working from home - or indeed not working at all - some ground rules and structure can help.

If you normally eat breakfast at 8am, keep doing so. If you’re used to cooking dinner at a certain time, then tuning in to your favourite TV show, do that too. If you usually meet with a friend for coffee on a Wednesday, keep it in your schedule, but arrange a video call instead.

These things may seem small, but a “normal” routine can help to ground us in times of isolation.

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3. Do an online course

If there can be such a thing as a silver lining to the COVID-19 crisis, one might be that we all have more time. Why not put it to good use by doing an online course?

There are countless options. EdX gives you access to more than 2,500 courses from institutions including Harvard, MIT, Berkeley and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

The courses are free, but if you’re happy to pay a small optional fee, you can get a certificate, which could build up your resumé. Or simply take the opportunity to learn about something you’ve always been interested in.

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4. Enjoy the sunshine and exercise if you can

While we're self-isolating and socially distancing, going outside is still okay in many cases, at least for a limited time. You could go for a walk in a local park, and let the natural surroundings relax you.

5. Dress up and go digi-dining

The internet makes it easier to continue doing some of the things you like, albeit virtually. Video conferencing was growing in popularity before the pandemic, and offers a great way to stay in touch with friends and family. Book groups, exercise classes and choirs can all be migrated online with the right software.

Coronavirus china virus health healthcare who world health organization disease deaths pandemic epidemic worries concerns Health virus contagious contagion viruses diseases disease lab laboratory doctor health dr nurse medical medicine drugs vaccines vaccinations inoculations technology testing test medicinal biotechnology biotech biology chemistry physics microscope research influenza flu cold common cold bug risk symptomes respiratory china iran italy europe asia america south america north washing hands wash hands coughs sneezes spread spreading precaution precautions health warning covid 19 cov SARS 2019ncov wuhan sarscow wuhanpneumonia  pneumonia outbreak patients unhealthy fatality mortality elderly old elder age serious death deathly deadly
Demand for video conferencing apps is soaring. Image: Okta’s Business at Work Report

A plethora of conferencing and video chat apps mean it’s easier than ever to replicate social gatherings.

Some people are taking the idea even further, enjoying a meal together while also supporting their local businesses. That’s the idea behind ‘digi-dining’, an idea coined by a family in Australia as lockdown measures came into force.

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Finally, if you're struggling to cope, take a look at the World Health Organization's helpful advice.

Coronavirus china virus health healthcare who world health organization disease deaths pandemic epidemic worries concerns Health virus contagious contagion viruses diseases disease lab laboratory doctor health dr nurse medical medicine drugs vaccines vaccinations inoculations technology testing test medicinal biotechnology biotech biology chemistry physics microscope research influenza flu cold common cold bug risk symptomes respiratory china iran italy europe asia america south america north washing hands wash hands coughs sneezes spread spreading precaution precautions health warning covid 19 cov SARS 2019ncov wuhan sarscow wuhanpneumonia  pneumonia outbreak patients unhealthy fatality mortality elderly old elder age serious death deathly deadly
Coping with stress. Image: World Health Organization

Being on your own doesn’t have to be lonely. If you know someone who is alone during the pandemic, why not give them a call? You might just make their day.

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