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How to keep friendships strong in isolation (and why you should!)

FACETIME
SewCream | Shutterstock
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Now more than ever, we need to lean in to our social connections to stay mentally and emotionally healthy. But how do we do that in quarantine?

Over the past week, our company has been transitioning to Zoom in order to continue providing interactive personal training to our clients as we shelter in place. Because I wanted to keep offering easily accessible workouts during the transition, though, I’ve been doing hour-long Facebook Live workouts from my driveway … and y’all, I have not been loving it.

There’s a reason I’m not Jillian Michaels—working out by myself and talking to a camera is hard, weird, and lonely. I miss seeing my people’s faces, hearing about their lives, pushing them through tough workouts … I even miss listening to them groan when I say the word “burpee.” Desperate for interaction, I asked my friend Hailee if she would come work out with me (6 ft apart, of course) for my final Facebook Live video today. And because she’s the best friend anyone could ask for, she agreed.

It was amazing how much just knowing she was going to be there with me changed my mindset. I went from dreading the live session to being excited about it. I spent extra time on the workout, added some cool new stuff, and basically spent this morning the way my kids spend Christmas Eve—staring at the clock, willing time to move faster so I could see my friend. When she finally got here and we started the video, I could feel the difference immediately. The live video was full of energy, laughter, shared burpee commiseration, and the hour went by way too fast. By the time she left, I felt happier than I have in weeks. This crazy time we’re living through didn’t seem nearly as bleak after some real, in-person facetime with my friend.

Really, this is the lesson our family has been learning all week. My kids started zooming with their friends and teachers on Tuesday, and the mood in our house shifted dramatically. They’re laughing again and fighting less, sure—but the real difference is that hope returned to our house. Even virtual connection with their friends and teachers has sparked excitement, curiosity, and eagerness in all 5 of them … things I hadn’t realized had dwindled so drastically in all of us.

It makes sense though. We’re designed for social connection—it’s necessary for everything from mental and emotional stability to fully-functioning neural pathways. And in times of crisis, our inclination is to come together to face it … which is part of the reason this quarantine is so difficult. We need our friends and our communities more than ever right now—and luckily, there are easy ways to keep those bonds strong and get the social connection necessary for us to get through this time healthy in body, mind, and spirit.

1
Virtual Meetups

Y’all, let’s be real—there is no better time in human history for a quarantine. Not only do we have phones in our pockets, but those phones are also equipped with cameras and apps that let us talk face-to-face across miles and continents. If you’re wary of social media like Facebook, never fear—Zoom is really the best way to go right now. My kids use it for homeroom, I use it for training—heck, my daughter even went on a Zoom field trip with her class this week! Utilize these resources to keep your social connections close during social distancing.

2
Bike Rides

Just because we have to be 6 feet apart doesn’t mean we can’t see our friends. Bike rides are the best way to get some friend time, both for adults and kids. The inherent danger of riding too close to each other (unless you’re on the Tour de France) will keep social distancing effortless—plus, you’ll get the dual hit of endorphins from exercise and dopamine from social connection!

 

3
Driveway Coffee Dates

Letting kids play together—even outdoors—isn’t the best idea right now, given how inherently hard it is for kids to stay 6 feet apart. But for the adults? I mean, how many times have we seen that Seinfeld rerun on close talkers, right? We got this. Invite a friend over for coffee on the driveway, or have lemonade on the front porch during those hot afternoons. Either way, you’ll both get a pick-me up and walk away feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and renewed.

Whether you use these ideas or come up with clever solutions of your own, it’s vitally important not to let social distancing become social isolation. And even though us parents are busier and more stressed than ever, we can’t make the mistake of ensuring our kids stay socially connected but not doing the same for ourselves. This global pandemic is creating fear and anxiety in all of us, so let’s reach out, stay connected, and help each other get through this together — even from a distance.

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