Practice Physical Distancing Not Social Distancing
Physical distancing is a necessary measure that we all need to take seriously in order to tackle the spread of Covid-19. At the moment, neither events are allowed nor public gatherings, so we all need to do our part and #StayatHome!
Nevertheless, some of us have special occasions coming up, for example a best buddy’s birthday, your parents’ anniversary, a promotion, a celebration. Anything at all! For us social animals this is unfortunately not a time to be holding events. Do not fret! There are still fun ways to get together with friends and family from a distance and from the safety of your home.
Here are some ideas for beating the loneliness blues and keeping morale up, for us, our friends and our families:
1. Organise digital games-nights
Why play alone on our phone, when we can play online with friends?
Photo by Afif Kusuma
Over the weekend, I had 2 virtual games nights, each with a different group of friends. Both times we agreed a time to begin the video conference call and then we played games together online. Simple! Easy to set up too!
One great plus point about virtual games nights is that you can have them with friends all over the world. The first group of friends was a combination of friends based in Cyprus and South Africa. Now these 2 countries are in the same time zone so scheduling was easy. Of course, if you’re planning your games night with friends across different time zones, you have to factor in the time difference. I like to use timezoneconverterapp.com which makes it super easy to work it all out. Just add everyone’s nearest city, drag the slider to your target time and boom!
We set up the conference call via Zoom, a cloud platform for video and audio conferencing. Even though it took a little time to set up the conference platform and the games for everyone, it wasn’t tragic; it’s not like we had somewhere else to go! ;) Overall, it worked really well. We all used different devices, like for example our TV screens, laptops, mobile phones and tablets. We were all able to connect the video call on a screen allowing us all to see each other in real time, check each other’s facial expressions and refer directly to each other.
We played 2 games: Scribbl.io which is like a cross between Pictionary and Hangman, and Fibbage, a great game for finding out who’s the best bluffer! The sheer pleasure I had when the others bought into my utter fabrications is priceless! Both of the games were lots of fun and there was heaps of laughter. Scribbl.io is a free game and Fibbage is paid for.
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The following evening, I had a games night with a different group of friends. We were all in Cyprus, but indifferent towns, Nicosia and Larnaca. This time, we used Messenger for the group video call and our laptops and tablets for playing the game.
We played Tokaido on the Board Game Arena (BGA) platform. Due to the excessive demand on the game platform, as millions of people stay at home these days looking for ways to entertain themselves, you may not be able to sign up or sign in for a little while. At the time of writing this blog the BGA platform is able to take in 14000 users. In our case, we had to wait about 10 minutes and after multiple attempts we were able to sign in.
On both games nights, everyone taking part agreed that it was great fun and that we would repeat this regularly, during the coronavirus restrictions.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to be an expert to any of the above games. Actually, you don’t need to know how to play them. It’s part of the fun of trying out a new game! If one person knows the game, then just get them to explain the rules to everyone. If not, just read the rules of each game together online and just have a go at it. You’ll be playing away in no time.
2. Organise digital social gatherings
Another fantastic way of socialising is to invite your friends for a virtual brunch, coffee, drinks, cocktails or dinner. Whatever tickles your fancy is totally acceptable here.
Last Sunday, I invited a bunch of friends for brunch. No, not at my place (hello! #Covid19)! Instead, I invited everyone for brunch at their own place!
I already had a group set up in Messenger with this specific group of friends, from when I had invited them to a theme party back in February (which we had before the term “self-isolating” had even entered our vocabularies), so it was easy to just send 1 message to everyone.
This is what the invitation message said:
I then asked them to let me know who’s joining. I created a new Messenger group with those who RSVPed, so that I can easily start a video call from within the group. Sure enough, we all prepared our brunch, teas, coffees and by 11:30 we sat on our tables, in our own houses and placed the call. We were able to look at each other, catch up on all the latest, whilst eating away. Later on, we started fooling around with Messenger’s masks and filters and started playing games with Messenger’s Activities too. Here’s a screenshot of the end result:
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You can keep it as civil or as silly as you like. You can all dress up, or you can play silly activity games on Messenger together, like for example, who eats the most virtual burgers 🍔! It’s up to you entirely :)
[An extra bonus aftermath of virtual brunch… Less washing up to do afterwards! 😉 ]
3. Organise digital birthday parties
During Sunday’s virtual brunch, 2 very close friends joined us, whose birthdays we all missed due to the coronavirus restrictions. So, we turned brunch into an opportunistic birthday surprise! We brought 2 mini-cakes out, lit up a candle on each and we all sang ‘Happy Birthday’ together. It is the same as having a real party? Maybe no, but it’s much better than doing nothing for someone’s birthday!
You can do a few things to add that ‘fun and magic’ to a virtual birthday.
• You can make it a surprise virtual party, with an out-of-the-blue group video-call. Let other friends know ahead of time and prepare accordingly, before calling the friend whose birthday you are celebrating. Then, make a surprise video call, which includes everyone.
Photo by Peter Bucks
• You can create a festive backdrop behind the place you will be sitting, during the video call. Use materials that you already have at home. You could try colourful ribbons, fruit, balloons, photos of past good times together, paper cut-outs and whatever else you can find lying around.
Photo by Pineapple Supply Co.
• Bake a little cake and add some candles on it! Unless you want to have a cake-party-for-one, later on, there’s no need to go overboard and make a full size birthday cake. A small one will do. In fact a small one is better. Otherwise you’ll be left with a big cake in the fridge that your friends cannot virtually eat (or even worse, you eat the whole thing yourself, and that’s just not worth the self-hate!)
There’s something magical about making an effort for your friends and family, that says ‘Happy Birthday — I love you’ like nothing else. Get creative!
4. Take classes online
Do you have some free time on your hands? (Duh — of course you do! #Covid-19). As this is a good time to learn something new by learning it with friends, you can leverage the them as the inspiration and motivation to keep it up.
Photo by Sincerely Media
You could start by learning a new language. What better way than convincing a few friends to start learning a language at the same time and then practicing it together online at certain times. You can create a bi-weekly virtual rendezvous and check up on each other’s progress. You can use a free app, like duolingo, or hire a private online tutor, who can give you an online intensive course.
Spending so many hours at home is an easy way towards potato-couchdom! At the moment of writing this blog post, gyms are closed and public spaces are not safe. If we want to keep up with our exercising regime, we will have to do it from home.
Get in touch with your personal trainer, or yoga or pilates instructor and suggest for regular online classes that use minimum equipment. Your body and mind will be thankful! If you are concerned about the cost, you don’t have to have one-to-one classes, your instructor can set up a group class. You can save on tuition and socialise with your class. Double wins!
If you are well disciplined and you like exercising on your own, you can still share your progress with friends and perhaps encourage others to exercise from home, too. There are tons of people on Instagram, for example, creating their own fitness challenges for them and their community. Go to Instagram Search and type in your favourite way of exercising and you might find something you like.
If you are a runner you can try Qua*run*tine, a virtual trail on your screen that gets activated as you start running in front of your laptop camera. We’ve heard it is a bit buggy and experimental, but it’s worth a try.
6. Call people
For those lovely people in our lives that have no internet access, smartphones, or other smart devices, just give them a call! Yes, a regular phone call. Have a little chat. Catch up on what’s happening in your lives and check if anyone needs your help in any way, during home-isolation times.
Photo by Vinicius Amano on Unsplash
All in all, there’s no need to stop socialising during self isolation! With the help of the internet, we can do tons of fun stuff together in groups: virtual games nights, virtual brunches, coffees or dinner parties, virtually celebrating someone’s birthday, learning something together with friends, online exercising from home, or simply just calling someone on the phone.
Don’t forget to include those within your community, who may be living on their own and might have a harder time getting through staying at home for a prolonged period of time.
All of the above are excellent ways of staying active, both body and mind, whilst staying social in the safety and comfort of our own homes. Let’s keep socialising; we need it! Humans are social animals. We need it. The internet allows us to practice physical distancing, as opposed to social distancing. Stay safe!
Photo by Dakota Corbin