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5 ways to stay close during social distancing

From virtual happy hours to gaming apps to home fitness classes, here are five ways to stay happily connected during COVID-19.

Let’s start with the obvious: It’s important to stay home. Whatever you’re hoping to do, aside from getting groceries, supplies, or perhaps a little fresh air (while keeping an appropriate distance from your neighbors), is not worth getting yourself sick, getting your family sick, or getting a complete stranger sick.

That all said, to quote Aristotle, man is the social animal. (Aristotle might be surprised to learn that women are social, too.) We don’t want to be alone, we want to spend time with each other. We need it. We crave it. Even in these dark and trying times—or maybe especially in these dark and trying times—the simple act of conversation can be a healing balm for the soul. It’s vital to our mental health and well-being.

So here are some ideas on how to get that balm while still following the rules, and the laws, of social distancing.

In this article:

Drink up!

Virtual happy hours are a great way to reconnect with friends old and new. Choose your favorite video call app (Zoom seems to be enjoying its newfound popularity, with users and investors alike), invite some folks, set up a time, and pour yourself something nice. And then… it’ll be awkward. For a bit. Someone will invariably lose the link to the chat. Someone will have their mic on mute. Someone will be unable to figure out their camera. It’ll be hilarious. But once everyone (finally) settles in, you’ll be swapping stories and trading laughs in no time at all. Bonus for organizing a meetup with friends you haven’t talked to in awhile, even a decade or two. Extra bonus if someone performs a song, recites a poem, or acts out a scene from a favorite movie, show or play.

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Virtual game on!

For those of a certain generation, the ritual of going to a friend’s house to play video games into the wee hours was a treasured part of growing up. Fortunately, you can relive those nights—and even play the same games!—thanks to systems like the Nintendo Switch, which offer you the next-best-thing to sitting next to the person you’re challenging in Super Mario Kart. There are a multitude of services that let you talk with one another while you do, too. The trick in yesteryear was to avoid waking up your parents; these days, it might be your beloved spouse (or even your own kids) whose slumber you’ll aim not to interrupt with an ill-timed celebratory whoop.

Of course, nothing’s stopping you from asking your partner or child to join you, either.

Virtual game on (part II)!

Many mobile phone apps simulate the beloved board games of our youth, and permit you to play with the people from whom you are otherwise socially distanced. There are far too many to list here, and they range from the classics (Words With Friends) to newfangled (something called … Galaxy Trucker?). The Onion recently joked that bored Americans would soon be looting puzzle stores; that magical device in your pocket ensures it (probably) won’t come to that.

Use your social media channels for good

For most of us, social media is still our most reliable means of communicating with the larger outside world. It is also, at times, a dystopian hells cape filled with angry rants and outright disinformation.

If you are able, consider using it constructively by publicizing those organizations in need via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram (or… TikTok? Asking for a middle-aged friend). It’s a great way to both feel good and do good. The blessing and curse of social media is that it makes it easy to amplify information. This is your chance to use that power to help the people who are struggling right now.

Take a class

If you find yourself experiencing a newfound surplus of downtime, this might be an opportunity to learn a new skill or take up a new hobby. This is true no matter your age—the children’s book author and illustrator Mo Willems has been hosting a charming series called Lunchtime Doodles in which he explains and practices his craft.

If you find yourself challenged to keep up with your workout routine—or just need some time to de-stress—many yoga studios have pivoted to virtual classes, where you can practice your downward dog while connecting with your fellow yogis through your computer screen. Or you can always download Aaptiv, which is available to eligible Haven Life customers at no cost.

Of course, nothing can replace the simple act of human touch. Looking through a camera can’t replace looking someone in the eye. It can be a lonely, even depressing experience as this drags on. But as others have said, when you look around and see the empty spaces, recognize that they’re signs of love, signs that people will ultimately do the right thing, even at great personal cost, if it means potentially saving the life of a stranger. And in the meantime, thank goodness for Zoom.

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About Louis Wilson

Louis Wilson is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a wide array of publications, both online and in print. He often writes about travel, sports, popular culture, men’s fashion and grooming, and more. He lives in Austin, Texas, where he has developed an unbridled passion for breakfast tacos, with his wife and two children.

Read more by Louis Wilson

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

Our disclosures

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.

Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit:

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