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The COVID-19 pandemic brought people’s social life to a screeching halt. Social distancing, quarantining, and staying home with immediate family have been necessary to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. But all that social deprivation and social isolation comes at a price to your mental health and well-being.

That’s why it’s also important for you to stay socially healthy during COVID-19. Socially healthy means staying connected to and interacting with family, friends, and society in general.

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Tips for Staying Socially Healthy

Yes, you can still be social while being physically distant and following COVID-19 safety recommendations. Here are some ideas to help you safely socialize and keep up your social health during COVID-19.

Get creative with virtual gatherings

Zoom and FaceTime can get a bit boring if all you do is sit there. Instead make it a virtual board game night, playing the old favorites like Yahtzee or Boggle. Or Pandemic, one of 17 expert-recommended best Zoom board games, according to New York magazine.

And while we can’t break bread together in person, we can still cook together online. If you’ve always meant to get those famous family recipes, now’s the time to get those family members online. Ask them to show you how their cooking secrets and follow along.

Organize a socially-distanced picnic

When the weather is nicer, it’s easier to gather outdoors. Ask a small number of friends or family to join you in a park. Have everyone bring their own picnic basket of food and hand sanitizer.

Even when gathering outdoors, it’s still important to wear a mask and stay 6 feet apart. And limit gathering to a small number of people.

Hold an outdoor movie night

Use a garage door or other outdoor wall to view the latest movie release. Or make it a regular event by watching a series outdoors with family and friends. Set up lawn chairs or blankets six feet or more apart.

Pick up the phone

With so many online meetings for school and work, it’s understandable if you have Zoom fatigue. A simple phone call is all it takes to connect with your best friend or loved ones near and far. And you don’t need to worry about bad connections or bad lighting.

Attend a virtual concert

Music has a way of lifting our spirits. Throughout the pandemic, many musical artists and venues from opera, to country, to hard rock, have hosted free concerts online. Even though you’re in your own homes, you and your friends can share your reaction via text or through social media.

Play video games

Don’t just leave the video games to your kids. Ask to join in the fun. Video games provide a great opportunity to connect with your kids and talk to them about something other than school.

Get vaccinated

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 not only protects your physical health, it helps you get back to a more normal social life. Once you are fully vaccinated, you can gather with other people who are also fully vaccination. That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

You are fully vaccinated when it’s:

  • Two weeks after your second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
  • Two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

Once that waiting period is over, the CDC advises you can visit together inside a home or private without a mask. Or without staying six feet apart. You can also gather inside a home or in private with one household of unvaccinated people who aren’t at risk for severe illness. Visit the CDC website for the most up-to-date safety guidelines.

Even when you’re fully vaccinated some COVID-19 safety rules still apply. Avoid gathering indoors, without a mask, with people who are at severe risk of COVID-19. And avoid attending medium or large gatherings.

If traveling helps recharge your mind, there’s good news here, too. Once you’re fully vaccinated, you can travel in the U.S. without needing to get tested before or after travel. You also don’t have to self-quarantine after travel.

When You've Been Fully Vaccinated: How to Protect Yourself and Others. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Link.

Here Are All the Livestreams & Virtual Concerts to Watch During Coronavirus Crisis (Updating). Billboard. Link.

About UPMC Western Behavioral Health

UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital is the hub of UPMC Behavioral Health, a network of community-based programs providing specialized mental health and addiction care for children, adolescents, adults, and seniors. Our mission is to provide comprehensive, compassionate care to people of all ages with mental health conditions. UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital is a nationally recognized leader in mental health clinical care, research, and education. It is one of the nation’s foremost university-based psychiatric care facilities through its integration with the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. We are here to help at every stage of your care and recovery.