Make social distancing more social

The outbreak of coronavirus has left the world battling what’s been dubbed ‘the worst public health crisis of a generation’ and now most of us are self-isolating to do our bit to help contain the rapid spread.

Staying at home for an extended period initially seems great – you can catch up on your housework, tuck into some good books, do some online study and finally binge on that Netflix series you’ve been meaning to watch.

But after a few days, being cooped up can become pretty lonely – especially if you don’t share your home with family or anyone to provide some much-needed distraction from reading the news.

If you’re used to leading a social lifestyle, meeting up with friends or indulging in your social hobbies, getting used to this new way of life can be challenging. There’s lots of talk about the physical impact of coronavirus, but it can take a real toll on your mental health, too.

Thankfully, technology makes it easier than ever to stay connected with people outside your four walls.

1. Host a virtual quiz
Who says the weekly quiz can only happen in a bricks and mortar establishment?

Zoom is a video conferencing app that lets you all appear and communicate on one screen. Simply agree a time, send out the invites, ask one person to be the quizmaster and you’re good to go. You could even give out an online voucher as the top prize to the winner.

2. Watch a film with friends
Netflix’s new Party feature makes watching a movie at home more like a cinema experience. The new feature allows you to host long-distance movie nights, synchronising video playback and adding group chat to your favourite titles.

If one person pauses the film to go to the toilet, it pauses for everyone, so you all continue to watch it at the same pace. We suggest cracking open a couple of beers and pulling out some popcorn from your stockpile for a Godfather marathon.

3. Watch some live living room gigs
With so many festivals being cancelled, lots of artists are planning to livestream DIY gigs direct to your living room, completely free of charge. Check out the MSO YouTube channel or visit the Together at Home website, where you’ll find all manner of musicians streaming live music from their homes and answering questions from fans.

4. Make some art
UK comic and Great British Bake-off host Noel Fielding has announced that he’ll be hosting an art club – a really simple idea that you could easily start and enjoy with a group of friends

The rules are simple: pick a theme, give people a deadline to paint, photograph and send in the submissions and then have a judge decide the best in show.

5. Live stream a fitness class
Instagram and YouTube are crammed with free home workouts right now, with everything from fat-burning high-intensity interval training sessions to gentle yoga. Many of the big gym chains are also streaming live workouts so you can still get the feeling of being in the gym, even if you’re at home.

6. Host some virtual drinks
Houseparty is a really fun app that lets you video conference with your friends. The real-time accessibility of the app makes it feel like you’re enjoying each other’s company as though you’re all in the same room.

The app also has loads of fun inbuilt games like trivia quizzes and Pictionary to keep the banter flowing between rounds. It’s just as good, if not better, than an evening at the local – and you’ll be saving loads of money in the process too.

How do you make social isolation more social?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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