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If you are getting tired of staying home, you are not alone. Many people thought by now we would be out and about more than we are. Governor John Bel Edwards announced that Louisiana will extend Phase 2 of the re-opening at least two weeks longer than expected. People over 65 and those with underlying health conditions are advised to stay home as much as possible. What do people miss most? Probably connecting with other people. With that in mind, here are a few easy ways to stay connected with others while at home.

Virtual cock tail parties are the new happy hours. You can use platforms like Zoom or Facetime to host a party with a few friends. This is also a great way to get used to connecting to people on screen instead of in person. The platforms are easy to learn and use. Start by emailing an invitation to a few friends who are probably wanting to connect as much as you are.

Instagram is probably seeing more action than it has ever seen right now. People are sharing more and more of their lives with each other with their posts. It is not surprising that people are using social media more during quarantine than they normally would. Seeing and hearing what the people you care about are up to is easiest with social media.

Online book clubs were already gaining steam before the pandemic, but now they are all over the place. You can join existing clubs online, or you can start one with people you know. The clubs usually meet online once a week via ZOOM or a similar platform. Sometimes they turn into social hours, much like the virtual cocktail parties. It depends on the group, but if you are a devoted reader, this can be an interesting way to stay connected.

ZOOM family dinners can be a great way to spend time together. Everybody agrees to dinner at a certain time, prepares their meal and signs on to enjoy family time. If family members enjoy wine with dinner, select a wine that everyone will enjoy and have a family toast. Although the dinners are not a real substitute for being together, they do offer an opportunity to converse and share quality time with loved ones.

Online classes are more prevalent now than they have ever been. Colleges and universities have necessarily had to transition to online classes. In many programs you do not have to be on a degree track to enroll. You can often just take a class that interests you. Here in Baton Rouge, BRCC has a wide range of online classes. Sometimes the best way to stay fully engaged is to learn something new and this is a great way to do that. From skill-based classes to technology courses or even foreign language classes, distance education is widespread. Louisiana State University’s Continuing Education department offers lifelong learners several options, including individual course offerings – everything from biology, political science and marketing, to foreign languages, computer science and psychology.

One-on-one video chats have become as common as phone calls. FACETIME is one of the easiest apps to use in this regard. This is a great way to see each other, catch up on one-another’s lives and experiences, and truly stay connected with the people who mean the most to you.

If you are feeling isolated and cut off from the outside world, remember this is temporary. But while we shelter in place, it is still important and uplifting to connect with other people.

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