Tired of Social Distancing? Fun Websites and Apps to Stay Connected
By Jennifer Larson, contributor
Are you getting a little weary of
social distancing? You’re not alone.
Many nurses and others around the
country are missing their friends and family members, even as they know they’re
doing the right thing to reduce the chance of contracting or spreading the
Even so, don’t give up on
maintaining connections with your friends and loved ones.
Staying connected to other people
is crucial for nurses’ mental and physical wellness, according to Cristina
Dorazio, PhD, psychologist with Unity
Psychological Counseling in New York City. Humans are wired for
connection. Connecting helps your brain release oxytocin, which in turn, can
lower your blood pressure and your cortisol levels and even help you sleep
“It is important for nurses,
especially now, to make the effort to stay connected to others so they can reap
both the physical and emotional benefits and stay grounded as they do this
important work,” said Dorazio.
Check out these fun online
opportunities to stay connected while social distancing. Even as the country
continues to open up, after weeks of stay-at-home orders, these digital tools can
be sources of connection for travel nurses and others.
15 top websites and apps to help nurses stay connected
Zoom. Certainly, Zoom has become
central to many people’s lives during the coronavirus pandemic. The site makes it easy to schedule a live
video call with your old classmates from nursing school, with your family, with
your neighbors and friends from back home.
Instagram. Curate a list
of your favorite accounts to follow on Instagram and include people whose
posts make you smile. And of course, you can choose what to post and share with
your own followers–on your own schedule.
Online games. You can’t
really enjoy a good board game by yourself, but thanks to the magic of the
Internet, you can play many board games online with others. Settlers of Catan
are popular free choices, but if you’re willing to pony up a few dollars, you
can play other online games like Ticket to Ride.
Free card games are also available on sites like TricksterCards, which allows
you to see fellow players while enjoying Spades, Hearts, Euchre, Bridge and
Marco Polo. Remember
raucous games of “Marco Polo” at the swimming pool when you were a kid? You can
use the Marco Polo
app to leave fun video messages for your friends–and look forward to
watching the ones that they send to you! It can be a great option for
connecting with folks on a different schedule (or in a different time zone)
Active.com’s virtual races.
If you’re a runner or a walker, this is for you: Active.com's
regularly-updated list of virtual races from coast to coast in which
you can participate while still social distancing. Choose a 5K, 10K, half
marathon or even a full marathon. Text a friend and ask him or her to be your
running buddy and sign up with you. You can message each other while you train
and encourage each other to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Discord. Discord started
in the gaming community, but has expanded to a much broader audience.Download
you can have text discussions, voice chat and video chat channels all in one
place. Connect with your book club, your dance class buddies, your cousins, or
anyone else with whom you want to have an ongoing connection.
Netflix Party. You can
download this Google Chrome extension for free and watch shows on Netflix at
the same time as your friends, while group chatting (and criticizing wardrobe
and casting choices) simultaneously. You can create a watch party via Netflix Party
or create your own. (Since there’s no video feature, you can wear your jammies,
Ravelry. Ravelry is a
free site for knitters and crocheters with a large, active membership. (Remember
all those folks who made the ear bands with buttons for face masks?) Whether
you’re picking up a new hobby or returning to one that you set aside, you can connect
with friends from all over the world and participate in forums and discussions
focused on the fiber arts.
bills itself as a “face-to-face social network” that you can download and use
on your computer, tablet or smartphone. Gather up seven of your friends and
create a video chat “room.” You can also play online games with your friends
through Houseparty or “float” to other rooms to see if you’re missing something
more interesting over there.
Fitness programs. Miss
going to the gym? Check out an online fitness community like MyFitnessPal,
and get access to workouts and connections with other sweaty, like-minded
Don’t forget that you don’t
always need an app—you can also pick up the phone and call someone to talk,
noted Dorazio. Sometimes it’s easier to talk by phone, since it can take a lot
of energy to stay focused on a video screen as you would with Zoom or FaceTime.
You can call fellow nurses to check on them and see how they’re doing, or schedule
a phone call with your friends and family back home.
Also, don’t hesitate to look into
finding a therapist, many of whom are offering telehealth appointments right
now. In fact, Onward Healthcare’s travel nurses have access to virtual therapy
appointments as part of their benefits
“Take the time now as a means of
prevention to speak to a therapist and learn healthy ways of coping with the
trauma of this pandemic,” said Dorazio. “We do not want to see you burn out
from this experience or suffer extreme mental health consequences.”