Finding Way to Connect during COVID-19
The consistent message from students, parents, and many of us during this pandemic is we miss the chance to connect. We are a social society as supported by the number of restaurants, bars, sporting arenas, shopping centers, movie theatres, and other large venues where the masses gather. So, when the pandemic started and we were on lockdown, that human contact came to an abrupt halt.
Certainly, we found ways to forge contact through Zoom, drive-bys, social distance gatherings – I myself sat on my elderly mother’s driveway for the first month so as to not put her at risk. It broke my heart to not be able to hug her or come inside even though I had not been going anywhere. And now we find ourselves in a space where students were welcomed back but with many limitations and some strong repercussions should they not follow the rules. What this has meant is many of us are watching as students feel disconnected, isolated, lonely which is most definitely not the college experience they, or us, were hoping for.
As the pandemic lingers on, there are ways for students to find connections. Most of the college campuses are beautiful with many great outdoor places to socially distance and hang out. Or, they are close to other outdoor venues that offer the same ambiance. Here we list our top suggestions. All of our universities have blogs about outdoor places.
- Enjoy a good meal or picnic—in dining tents, courtyards, outdoor lawns
- Hang out with friends outside—in courtyards, outdoor lawns, dining hall patios, open on-campus spaces
- Hang out with friends inside including lounges, pool areas, and lobbies where space allows physical distancing. They can even have their own backyard tailgate.
- Participate in clubs or organization meetings. Other attendees can join on Zoom.
- Do fitness activities—in residence hall courtyards and on outdoor lawns
- Examples: yoga, playing Frisbee, football throwing, Spikeball, and volleyball -you can even attempt stadiums
- Create a running group and explore your university town or city—check out some sample running routes on mapmyrun. Face masks/coverings are not required for outdoor exercise while you are exercising. Remember to maintain 6 feet distance if you come across anyone while exercising or if you are exercising with others.
- Have a group study session—at libraries, residence hall lounges, courtyards, outdoor lawns, dining hall patios, and lobbies where space permits
- Watch a movie or listen to music with friends. Better even yet, check your local area to see if they have a drive-in which has made a stunning comeback. Florida, Georgia, Indiana, and Maryland have options. HaveUHeard that the first drive-in theatre opened in Camden, New Jersey in 1933 and that the largest operating drive-in theatre in the United States is the Swap Shop Drive-In located in Fort Lauderdale? There are many fun facts about the history and culture behind drive-ins.
- Play video games— where space permits
- Play board games – Disinfect game pieces and supplies after use, wash hands before and after, refrain from touching your face
- Start a book club – we’ve got some great recommendations for impactful books.
- Do craft activities—we’ve been making Vision Boards. If you have old magazines, that helps. All you need is a cork board or poster board, some push pins, scissors. I change mine up as the year goes on so using a corkboard makes it easier to remove items, rearrange and add new ideas. You can even use some regular printing paper and work from there.
- Bake or Cook – Personally, I am more a cook than a baker, finding the process of chopping vegetables and fruits to reduce stress. Cutting/dicing/chopping has always been a way for me to channel my anxiety, frustration, or anger. Students may not want to stock a lot of condiments or ingredients so they can certainly try one of the meal service companies with their friends and meet a few times a week to meal cook.
- Check the local places of worship whether that is a church, synagogue, or mosque – they are finding ways to have small-size events.
Register to learn about events on campus and check your email to stay informed about new events and opportunities to connect that are being created every day. Make sure to also monitor the social media accounts of your favorite student organizations. We know that these are challenging times to meet and make new friends. And, if you or your student is continuing to feel anxiety, depression, isolation, please seek assistance. You can read our blog Mental Health Issues in College Students in which Dr. Christina Atti, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who works closely with college students shares information to help students (and parents) identify potential mental health issues and some resources to locate valuable resources. Pass on these great tips, tell your friends and like us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Find out more about how to use HaveUHeard as a great resource. Sign up for other great tips at haveuheard.com.