Part of the code of the west is the spirit of neighbors helping neighbors. It’s often understood within the code that we should look out for our own, be courageous, and help others in need, and residents across the 6 counties we serve have been doing just that by practicing proper precautions to stem the spread of COVID-19. We’re washing our hands regularly, wearing masks, and practicing physical distancing when out and about.  

With these precautions in place and even as they loosen in some places, it can be tough to maintain our social connections with others, which can leave us feeling vulnerable, alone, and depressed. Social connections are as important as health precautions, leaving us with the question of how to practice physical distancing while also maintaining vital social connections. Luckily, we have many options for staying connected during this time. Here are some we’ve picked up along the way.  

In your home:

  • Reconnect with your family. Do things you haven’t had the time to do before. 
  • Teach kids life skills like baking, laundry, ordering food, cleaning the bathroom, or mowing the lawn. 
  • Play games together—there are so many options, from board games, to puzzles, to video games, and lawn games. 
  • Plant a garden. Maybe start vegetables that you can use in cooking dinner together.  

In your neighborhood:

  • Driveways, yards, cul-de-sacs, and sidewalks make great places to picnic with neighbors while still staying six feet apart. 
  • Kids can stay connected too by creating sidewalk chalk art, blowing bubbles, having water fights, and painting colorful rocks to place around the neighborhood.  
  • Have neighbors create chalk art on their driveways and host a “gallery walk” where people stroll by to check out the artistic creations. 
  • Kids can use washable markers to draw or play games with friends on either side of windows or storm doors. 
  • Host a neighborhood scavenger hunt, looking for items that are visible from the sidewalk. 

Online: 

Attend a class or event virtually. Gyms, museums, zoos, and other places are offering services, classes, attractions, tours and more virtually. And many of these events are free.  

Stay connected with friends and family. 

  • Have virtual check-ins or virtual happy hours. Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangouts are all good options for talking with friends and family and seeing their faces. 
  • Start the day with friends and coffee or host an end-of-the-day get together. 
  • Join a virtual watch party of a movie or show. 
  • Host a digital dinner party and include a virtual cooking lesson of the main dish. 
  • Read grandkids a bedtime story over video chat. 
  • Play your favorite board game with friends online. Try Tabletop Simulator—a program that allows people to play virtually any game. Popular games available include backgammon, chess, and mahjong, along with Settlers of Catan. Or try Twitch, a streaming platform that allows people a place to get together online and chat while playing games or watching others do so. Discorda free voice and text chat app, is primarily focused on audio, so you can talk with your friends while playing your game together. 
  • Take up the lost art of letter-writing—there’s something truly special about receiving a personal, handwritten letter in the mail, instead of the regular mailers and advertisements.  

Physical distancing shouldn’t mean total isolation. Following health guidelines for maintaining safe distancing becomes much easier with all of the options we have for staying connected. And being a good neighbor, friend, and family member means helping others in need. Despite all of our ways of connecting, this can be a difficult time. If you, or someone you know, seems to be struggling with mental health, please reach out to them and offer help.  

If you are feeling lonely or worried, we offer 24/7 phone support via The Center Support Line at 970-252-6220. If you would like to learn more about treatment options, reach out to The Center for Mental Health at 970.252.3200.  

We offer access to a free online screening tool here. 

We also offer free access to an online mental health support tool called myStrength. Learn more here. 

 

Written by Ed Hagins, Deputy Director of Operations & Special Projects, The Center for Mental Health