As the nation struggles to maintain some sense of normalcy amid the ongoing covid pandemic, spending quality time with other people really matters. People typically gather during holidays or special occasions, but it’s important to make social connections throughout the year. Research shows that spending time with family and friends makes a big difference when it comes to happiness, even for introverts. As Harvard happiness expert Daniel Gilbert states, “We are happy when we have family, we are happy when we have friends and almost all the other things we think make us happy are actually just ways of getting more family and friends.”
Nothing can replace time spent with family and friends to create memorable experiences and to share stories and family history. It is only human nature to desire to connect with people. In light of these realities, how do you maintain social connections and happiness amid a pandemic? The key is to balance social interactions with caution when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19, such as limiting the number of people in your social circle.
Create Social Pods
During the pandemic, many people create what is called a “social pod or a quaranteam.” Social pods are generally established based on needs and limited to no more than 10 people. Families, for example, can create a pod with other family members. This allows for social interaction as members restrict actions that might put other pod members at risk. The same rules apply if pods are formed among friends or other acquaintances.
In addition, pod members are advised to follow social gathering rules established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, such as wearing masks in public, getting vaccinated, and getting tested regularly for COVID-19. Furthermore, there are other actions people can take to maintain a sense of well-being as well.
The COVID pandemic is known to foster feelings of isolation, loneliness, depression, insecurity, and fear. To offset these emotions, the Happiness Research Institute recommends the following actions. Some of these actions involve social interaction to maintain a sense of well-being and happiness during these challenging times.
- Spend at least 15 minutes a day outside if weather permits. Outdoor time is a good opportunity to gather with other people. If these people are outside your pod, be sure to social distance and to wear masks.
- Help family and friends to boost your sense of well-being.
- Keep in touch with those close to you, in or outside your pod, by phone or video chats.
- Engage in physical activities to improve physical and mental health. Go for a walk with other pod members.
- Engage in arts and crafts or do-it-yourself projects to keep busy.
- Find some quiet time to clear your mind.
More COVID-19 Info
Check the CDC website often for updates on best practices to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. Alabama Extension also offers information about COVID-19 you can find online at Alabama Ready—COVID.