Being in a pandemic for almost two full years, many of us have already adapted to the pandemic, or “social distancing,” lifestyle. It’s become second nature to us: We remember to put our masks on before we leave or wash our hands as soon as we get home.
However something I have always struggled with is having a social life during this pandemic. In the beginning, the answer was simple: stay home. But, two years down the line, interacting with longtime friends or extended family has become inevitable. This especially becomes difficult with the addition of roommates to your life. Although the chances of getting COVID-19 are low when boosted and masked up, the thought of spreading it to people close to you is nothing short of scary.
So, how do you manage a healthy and safe balance between your social life while being COVID-19-conscious?
Although many of us are still trying to figure out how to balance the college lifestyle and pandemic lifestyle, there are a few things we can all do for each other to help mitigate the COVID-19 spread as school opens again.
The first would be to have open communication, whether this be with your roommates to establish some COVID-19 ground rules in case someone does come down with it or with your friends to assure a safe meetup. It’s more important now than ever to maintain healthy communication. Although this can sometimes be hard, as it’s not the easiest to establish boundaries or rules with others, it can keep people healthy and safe during the transition time between normal life and pandemic life.
The second would be to vary your hangouts, from the amount of people to the time between them. Depending on the urgency of your hangouts, or the amount of friends you have, the difficulty of this tip may vary. However, it may be easier to balance different branches in life when you plan hangouts further apart and with staggering amounts of people. This could mean hanging out with one friend one week and five the next, so long as you and those you hang out with are comfortable.
And, if you have a large group of friends that you want to hang out with, it might be easier to simply plan fun activities that could be done safely. This could look like a lot of different things, from a potluck picnic on the Glade, to a Zoom Netflix watch party. It’s less stressful and more fun to make COVID-19 safe plans with large groups of people. But if you do want to make dinner or throw a party, just be sure to openly communicate with those around you to get tested beforehand, to prevent stress in the future.
It can be difficult to manage a social life while staying safe, especially in college. In times like these, the most important thing is to be empathetic and understanding towards others and yourself. COVID-19 is stressful and it’s important to take personal care of yourself and your mental health. For many, de-stressing lies in hanging out with their friends.
As we begin in-person classes, the balance between social distancing and maintaining a strong academic and personal life will become blurred. It’s important to accept this, but also be wary of keeping yourself and those around you safe.