Staying social while social distancing: UM-Flint's Rosaen offers tips for remaining connected

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Staying connected is still important, especially in this time of social distancing. (Image by Lindsay Stoddard, University Communications & Marketing)
Staying connected is still important, especially in this time of social distancing. (Image by Lindsay Stoddard, University Communications & Marketing)

As the University of Michigan-Flint community and all Michiganders are staying inside and practicing social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, maintaining connections with others is essential for our mental health.

Dr. Sarah Rosaen, UM-Flint professor of Communications Studies, offers several tips to stay social during social distancing:

Set up regular FaceTimes, Google Hangouts, video chats or phone calls with family members and friends

"I have been doing video chats with friends, family, and co-workers, and it is really helpful," she said. "I have several text threads going with family and friends that are great, too, for feeling a connection. Everyone gives updates about their own stress, but also updates and announcements about the pandemic as well as suggestions for things to do around the house."

Join a virtual workout class or exercise solo with friends on video chat

The UM-Flint Rec Center is offering classes and daily workouts to do at home through Facebook and Instagram.

Exercise with friends at a safe distance

"I have taken a few social distance walks with friends, family, and neighbors," Rosaen said. "Exercising outside is still allowed even with the shelter-in-place order."

Keep a schedule

"My family is keeping to a schedule as well. That is helping the kids immensely to keep them from lounging in front of screens too much and staying on top of school work, but it also helps my husband and myself have focused time for work," she said.

Dr. Sarah Rosaen, professor of Communication

Do things you don't often get to do

"I usually have a long commute to work, so I am allowing myself to do things with that time that are fun and exciting, like read popular fiction books that have been on my list for a while."

"Watch" shows with friends and family members

Netflix has a "Netflix Party" function and there are browser extensions to allow you to "watch" shows with your friends and family.

Share art with neighbors

Some neighbors are connecting and coming up with art projects to post in their windows or yards so that when people walk around the neighborhood it's like an art museum. 

Check out live webcams and virtual exhibits

Some zoos and aquariums have live webcams so you can watch the animals in real-time. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago is posting videos of its animals, including penguins touring the aquarium, to its social media accounts.

Several museums have virtual exhibits. Check out museums like the Guggenheim Museum in New York or check out famous cultural sites or use virtual reality from your home.

Lindsay Knake is the Communications Coordinator for the UM-Flint Division of Student Affairs. Contact her with any questions, comments, or ideas about the DSA newsletter, social media, events, and communications.