More people are now working or studying from home as businesses close their doors in the wake of the . Some of us are already reeling from the isolation. But being self-quarantined or practicing social distancing doesn’t mean you have to be lonely.
Musicians are streaming live concerts. Religious organizations are streaming worship services. Friends are hosting virtual happy hours. You can even set up your own virtual book club. With a little creativity and technology, there are a lot of ways to stay connected with the community in the weeks to come.
Explore the endless possibilities of video chat
If you’re working from home you might use video chat apps like Skype, Zoom and Google Hangouts for meetings. Set up virtual lunches, happy hours, or open mic nights, or just catch-ups with friends and family. Video chatting via Facebook Messenger, Google Duo (on your phone) and the iPhone’s FaceTime are also good ways to keep in touch with family that you might not be able to visit while social distancing.
Find a pen pal in a nursing home
Sometimes it’s about making others feel less alone. With social distancing, some older people in nursing homes might not understand why their families aren’t visiting. Reachout America has a seniors pen pal program that’s easy to sign up for. You can also reach out to your local senior or nursing home and see what programs are available.
Take a virtual class
Having extra time means you can learn something new or teach a skill to someone else. Video chat services and social media live streaming can be helpful resources. When people started practicing social distancing, some of my friends offered to teach classes, like how to crochet, for example, via video chat. You can also find free courses and lectures from Harvard (yes, the Harvard) or browse a list of online classes from other universities on Coursera.
Workout with work-ins
Gym memberships and exercising with friends are another way people stay social. Planet Fitness is live streaming free “work-ins” every day at 4 p.m. PT/ 7 p.m. ET on Facebook Live. The workouts are also available on the gym’s Instagram. If you’re more of a yogi, lots of studios and instructors are doing live streams of classes, which you can search for on Twitter (or check with your local studio for resources).
On Instagram, celebrities are getting in on it too. Keep an eye out for fitness classes from trainer Jackelyn Ho, a meditation video from Grammy winner Lizzo, and instructional cooking videos from Queer Eye’s Antoni Porowski on IGTV.
Stream religious services
Weekly gatherings in a place of worship with others are a special time for many. It’s worth checking if your place of worship has a livestream on their website. You might be able to find sermon recordings or podcasts as well. If not, there are multiple places you can look online for religious services during this time of social distancing.
Christian World Media livestreams services. You can view schedules, set notifications for when a service is about to start, browse older sermons and bible studies. New York’s Central Synagogue streams services like Shabbat and interfaith services. The center has ways to join by phone and TV, and has a podcast available. In addition, The Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam is streaming weekly Jumah prayer. Catholic services and Mass are also available online on Catholic TV.
Live podcasts and radio
Podcasts were already a nice way to feel less lonely, in my opinion. With more people at home, podcasts alone might be a temporary cure to silence. Be on the lookout — your favorite show might host a special live episode. The social media pages for podcasts are another way to feel connected, especially with other fans of the show. Either way, you can find a number of binge-worthy podcasts on Spotify, Stitcher, Apple Music, Google Play and iHeartRadio. Old fashion radio — or internet radio — is another way to feel connected, especially if it’s a local station.
Stream a concert or opera
Since the US government has encouraged social distancing to slow the spread of the illness, performers are trying to find a way to share their art. Another nice thing about the streams is that you can often chat with others who are watching and leave comments for the performers, too, as another way to connect.
Rob Thomas from Matchbox Twenty, who also streamed a session, tagged at least a dozen other artists to encourage them to do the same. American DJ Diplo will host nightly music streams. In addition, the Metropolitan Opera will show Nightly Met Opera streams.
For more information the coronavirus and ways to stay safe and busy during social distancing, check out these CNET stories: