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As we enter our 6th month of social-distancing and sheltering-in-place because of COVID-19, isolation and loneliness threaten our mental and physical health. Isolation and loneliness can increase cognitive decline and weaken mental health. They can also affect our physical health and overall wellbeing. In this current climate when physically stepping out of isolation is discouraged, we must find alternative ways to stay connected to friends and family. We’ve gathered a handful of ideas and basic information to help you out. If you are unsure of how to keep in touch with your community, we hope this list will help you find an option that works for you. Be well and find joy today as you connect with loved ones.
- Letter writing is a fun way to stay in touch with friends, and is also mentally stimulating. Write about your daily life, send recipes, share jokes or funny experiences, send stickers, cards or other flat items. The Post Office now sells stamps online via their online store, so if you are unable to leave your home to purchase stamps, you can have them shipped directly to your door.
- Social Media such as Facebook or Instagram can be accessed by downloading the app or logging on through their websites. By creating an account, you will be able to add friends and family as “friends” and view photos, short videos called stories, and read captions and status updates.You can also choose your privacy levels by changing your account to public (anyone can view) or setting up privacy settings that limit who can view your content or add you as a friend. You can simply create an account to view your friends’ pictures and posts, or you can choose to add your own content. Always err on the side of caution: never share personal details like your address, full birth date phone number, driver’s license number or social security number on social media, and be cautious of adding strangers.
- Zoom is a video-conference tool. This means that like FaceTime, you can connect to friends with video calls. Zoom allows you to have many people on a call together. Download the app from your smartphone’s App Store or use the web version on your computer. You will need to click “sign up” and either create an account or use your gmail or facebook login to sing on. Once you do this, you will receive a confirmation email to log on to Zoom. After logging in, you will be able to schedule meetings with friends and loved ones. Creating a meeting will generate a specific meeting ID number, link and password that you can share with friends and family via text message or email. You can also join zoom meetings by clicking “join” and typing in a meeting ID and password.
- Email can be used to send messages. Although they may feel less personal, they can be sent instantly. If you don’t yet have an email account, there are many free options available. I personally prefer Gmail, but other hosts like Yahoo and AOL also provide free accounts. To create an email account, simply go to the website . Click “create account” to sign up. Fill in basic information and create a username and password. You username can be anything you want it to be, but an easy one to remember. (For example: J.Jones, Brad27, Mr.Gonzalez22, Runner328, poetryL0v3r, etc) Never make your username and password the same; the more unique your password is, the better. Gmail will also request your phone number to verify your identity by texting a code to your phone. If you do not wish to use your phone number, simply click “skip this step”. Once your account is created, click on the squares icon in the top right corner of your screen and find the “contacts” icon to add your friends’ email addresses. You can also click “Compose” from your main screen to type and send an email. On some devices, the compose button will just look like a “+” sign.
- FaceTime: If you have an Apple device such as an iphone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac computer, you can use the FaceTime app to connect to others who also use Apple devices. Click the green icon with a white video camera. Press the + and start typing the contact name of the person you’d like to call. Their name will be blue if they also have FaceTime. Click the button for video and your phone will begin dialing. Once they pick up, you will see them live on your screen. It’s as easy as making a regular phone call, no account names or logins required.
DISCLAIMER: This article contains information that is intended to help the readers be better informed regarding exercise and health care. It is presented as general advice on health care. Always consult your doctor for your individual needs. Before beginning any new exercise program it is recommended that you seek medical advice from your personal physician. This article is not intended to be a substitute for the medical advice of a licensed physician. The reader should consult with their doctor in any matters relating to his/her health.