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Everyone tells us we are not alone, to reach out to our friends and spend time with trustworthy people when we are feeling depressed, anxious, you name it. But right now, we can’t be surrounded by our friends. We are in the middle of a pandemic and have to do our part in flattening the curve by staying inside and not socializing. I don’t know about you guys, but this is making me feel rather alone. The few times I have ventured out to spend time with a couple friends, I have felt guilty afterwards.

Since neither isolation, shame, or contributing to the spread of a pandemic are good for mental health, how do we find ways to protect our sense of community and our mental health while still practicing social distancing?

By no means do I have the perfect answer but here are a few strategies I have come up with to remind us that we not alone:

  • Utilize technology! Video chat forums such as FaceTime and Google Duo are wonderful ways to stay in touch with friends. Social media like Instagram and Snapchat are other ways to stay connected through seeing your friends’ faces and/or hearing their voices. I have found that texting my close friends helps make my world feel less small. It connects me to the greater community of people who care about me and helps me feel less isolated. We may not be able to physically hang out, but we can still chat and make each other laugh.
  • Sign up for community relief efforts. A lot of cities are organizing aid efforts to bring supplies and help out the vulnerable among us. In my town, we have organized a group to bring supplies to the elderly and immunocompromised. Although it does not involve direct social interaction, it makes you feel like you are a part of something greater and reminds you that you are not alone. There will always be people here to help.
  • Take a walk. If you are living with family or have roommates or a pet, then all the better! But even a solitary walk can diminish feeling trapped, sunshine and fresh air are good for the mind and the soul.
  • Have fun! Finding creative entertainment around the house can not only help channel some of the antsiness into a more enjoyable outlet, but humor has also been shown to help reduce stress. My roommates and I found a bag of balloons and blew them up, drew faces on them, and stuck them on the ceiling. Other ideas I’ve heard of my friends doing are baking cookies, making Tik Toks, and having Uno tournaments.

You are not alone. We can and will find ways to stay connected to each other and remind one another of that. We will make it through this together.

If at any point you find yourself struggling with some tough thoughts, you can always call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text “home” to 741741.