Socializing in the time of Social Distancing
My role as our Pardes Jewish Day School Counselor is relatively straightforward… I am here to help everyone interact with each other and the world as easily and with as much joy as possible. As I adjust to our new (and don’t forget, temporary) normal, I realize that the nature and quality of those interactions are changing dramatically. We must now take an active role in creating opportunities for socialization. We cannot simply rely on the built-in mechanisms of work and school. In this paradigm, it can be easy to fall down the rabbit hole of news and social media, and forget how truly important “real” socializing can be for our physical and mental health.
There is ample research to support the notion that socializing can contribute to reduced stress and anxiety, better health outcomes, improved cognitive functioning, and even increased longevity. One study showed that patients undergoing chemotherapy fared better when they maintained meaningful relationships with friends and family throughout their treatment.
Now more than ever, it is critical that you make time every day for yourself and your children to connect with people who bring joy. No, it is not easy or natural under these circumstances, but important nonetheless.
Here are just a few ideas to get started…
Check in on grandparents. They need us now more than ever.
Older adults are especially vulnerable to social isolation. Checking on them (even over the land line), can help you get outside of yourself and your own stress about online work and school, allowing you to help someone who truly needs it. If possible, drive to their homes and wave and say hello from the car.
Today’s virtual birthday party for my mom with my brothers and their families from out of state
Video chat with friends and relatives out of state.
Each state is having a different experience with social distancing, and some are further along in the process than others. Find out what your relatives are doing to keep kids and themselves engaged. Share knowledge with each other about your different experiences.
Commiserate with other parents
As cheesy as it sounds, we ARE all in this together, and we need each other more now than ever. Take this opportunity to reach out to someone you don’t normally talk to outside of work or school, maybe a parent of your child’s best friend or that parent you always connected with at school events, but never reached out to. Now is the time to let go of that fear or insecurity… just do it!
Give yourself (and your kids) a break
It can be overwhelming to go onto social media only to see posts of children happily engaged in school work while sitting around perfectly appointed dining room tables. Meanwhile, you feel like you can barely remember your passwords or to comb your hair! Please, go easy on yourself. It is going to take TIME to adjust to our new normal. If you actually talk to people, you’ll find out that many of them are having the same struggles as you.
Here at Pardes, we are offering “Virtual Recess” for students in a few grades each week via Google Meet. We will play games, tell jokes, and just talk about how we’re feeling… How fortunate that we can connect in this way! This week 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade families were sent meeting links on their class Schoology pages.
Please remember I am available for virtual office hours for you and/or your children… just email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to set up an appointment!
Stay healthy and happy!
Here are some resources if you want to read more about the mental and physical benefits of socialization