Before March, friends might have met up in Suburban Square, or for dinner at a restaurant. Or maybe you met up to play sports, passing a ball back and forth. Now, with the COVID pandemic, everything has changed. But that doesn’t mean that you should stay home alone, in your bedroom, scrolling through TikTok one after the other.
There are still ways to meet up and have a good time while staying COVID safe. It’s understandable that after such a long time in quarantine, it can be frustrating to still remain in virtual school, unable to socialize.
Socializing is an enormous part of school and life in general and it can be hard to return to learning while not being able to mingle with peers. In an article written and published by Harvard’s Medical School titled “How to Socialize in a Pandemic,” the authors highlight the importance of being aware of your specific circumstances, including health factors, the community around you, and the people closest to you with their own risk factors.
So, this brings the questions we all have; how can one stay safe while still maintaining a social life? How can one socialize if they are distanced and disconnected from friends on a day-to-day and face-to-face basis?
First, be cognizant of the risk of the pandemic. It is completely understandable to want to be around other people; however, this pandemic is real. It has changed families, jobs, and entire industries. And even now, people are still asking the same questions that they did months ago; what is going to happen to me? To my friends and family?
These are valid concerns and fears, and when struggling with these unanswerable questions, it is important to reach out and establish a support system.
Second, familiarize yourself with reliable news for your county and state. Ask yourself these questions before meeting friends, even if socially distanced. How many cases are there right now? Have the cases increased or decreased? These are questions you need to find answers to before doing anything potentially reckless.
It is also important to think about both your own health risks and the effect you may have on your siblings, peers, neighbors, and extended family. They are counting on you to stay safe because it will also protect them. Maintaining a positive and COVID-19 safe environment and attitude while at school and in public places is important to inspire how others act. If you preach staying safe, not attending any large gatherings like parties, others will be influenced to follow in your footsteps.
Socializing is very important for mental health, even during a pandemic. The Conversation, a global non-profit network that covers the news around the world, has published an article featuring a survey on how teens are coping with the change. Half of the respondents said that they are capitalizing on the many social media networks and platforms to connect to one another and talk about their struggles.
These social media networks and platforms include Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube, as well as Facetime and WhatsApp, which have become increasingly popular for “face-to-face” conversations. Especially during the pandemic, streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and Prime Video, have also been essential in encouraging people to stay inside.
While these streaming platforms have made binge-watching easier than ever, make sure to maintain a healthy screen time. During a free hour, try to get outside, exercise, or help out around the house. Doing activities with family members can help you connect during the long days stuck together. You can also help with any tension by doing a good act that puts everyone in a better mood.
As people grow used to dealing with the pandemic and its changes, they might begin to ease up on regulations and social distancing. It is very important to notice, and stop, any of these behaviors. Record-breaking highs are becoming more common than ever.
While this pandemic has brought pain and sadness, we will come out of it as stronger individuals. Many of us have learned to adapt to situations that we did not imagine happening just months prior. It’s completely understandable to prioritize socializing now that it is trickier to do, but make sure to keep the circumstances in mind and stay COVID safe!