When the coronavirus (COVID-19) first swept through the United States, having to shelter in place to stop the spread didn’t seem so bad. Being isolated at home for a bit sounded peaceful, cozy even. But now that you’ve binged-watched Netflix until you can binge no more, gotten over the joy of placing that last jigsaw in your 1,000-piece puzzle and lost your drive to win family game nights, what do you do next? How do you move forward when home sweet home has gone stale, you long to see new faces and flattening the curve is crushing your social spirit? We know it’s hard to be away from family, friends and even coworkers right now. To show our support and help you avoid the mental and physical effects social isolation can cause, check out these 9 ways to connect while apart during COVID-19: How To Overcome Stress 1. Get active and outside. Commune with nature, if possible. Wander through your neighborhood, go on a walk or a run with a friend (but keep your distance to at least 6 feet apart) or enjoy a city stroll and watch how a little exercise and sunshine can help you kick stress to the curb. 2. Find inner peace. No matter how chaotic the world is around you, meditate regularly to quiet your mind. Start where you are and with what you have. There’s no right or wrong way to go about it; you can only gain wonderful benefits. According to Healthline, meditation can improve anxiety, stress, memory, focus and more. 3. Give thanks. It’s hard to adjust to the new normal when you wistfully want the old normal back. But to adapt and benefit, focus on being grateful for what you have. Try writing in a gratitude journal at least a few days a week. Or before you drift off to sleep each night, think of three things you’re grateful for each day. This can help shift your mindset from doom and gloom to shiny and happy. Another option is to remember all the beauty life still has to offer. Check out these 1000 awesome things like #995 Finding Money You Didn’t Know You Lost, #973 Sleeping in New Bed Sheets and #947 Neighbors With Pools. Not into listicles? That’s OK; you can watch TED talks on the topic to reclaim joy in your preferred medium. How To Shake Loneliness 4. Encourage communication. Go high tech and embrace video calls by getting your family and friends up to speed on all the latest technologies. Check out free apps that can pull you together, such as Google Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime and WhatsApp. Or if being in front of the camera isn’t your idea of fun, call or text someone you adore for a chat. Any contact or connection is good for the soul. 5. Be social. If you’re all dressed up with nowhere to go, here are some ideas to mentally go places when you have to stay at home but are climbing the walls. With so many virtual experiences available during lockdown, your social calendar will fill up quickly. Go to the theatre, wander through a museum, join a book club, take an art class or even hit a comedy club – all without ever leaving your house! The choices are endless now, and jumping into virtual activities is a great way to interact with others, reduce anxiety, find your flow and still feel out and about while doing what’s best right now, staying home to keep you and everyone safe. 6. Be a helper. Doing good not only helps others but helps yourself. When you feel bad, get a quick mood boost by doing nice things for others. For example, smile and interact with people you meet (from afar) when you go for your daily walk. Or consider picking up groceries for elderly neighbors, donating to food banks or paying it forward when you hit the drive-thru. Being a helper actually helps you find meaning, purpose and better well-being. 7. Get together. Go beyond an occasional virtual happy hour and create an online social or work group. Host a video lunch to feel like you’re eating or chatting together, almost like normal. Or think about hosting a video call with family, friends or colleagues to relax, unwind and enjoy some fun and games. Try playing Jackbox Games online during a video call. Our Goodway marketing team recently tried this for a little team bonding. It went quite smoothly over Zoom and was a real hit with the whole team! Looking for something more interactive and techy? Check out AirConsole to play quick video games, using your phone as your gamepad. How To Relieve Boredom 8. Become whom you want to be. You have the power to turn into a person you don’t even recognize once the pandemic is over. How about a Spanish-speaking, banjo-playing, speed-reading magician? Go for it! Now’s the time to gain some new knowledge and pick up all the hobbies you never had time for before. Or get a free education on most anything you want to learn on YouTube. Give a new language a go with Duolingo. Check out Udemy or Skillshare to polish or gain new skills. Or go the Ivy League route, with these free courses. If all else fails and you’re STILL BORED, press the bored button. When you do, you’ll be whisked off to one of hundreds of websites, specifically chosen to NOT bore you to tears! How To Feel Better 9. Find the humor. If you’re in a funk or forget what it feels like to laugh, get doses of good medicine by watching these funny sketches across the internet. Hear a song you’ll want to play over and over that hilariously explains the pains of online teaching and learning. Jam out to this catchy quarantine parody. Or get taken back to what your mindset was like a few short months ago. Or banish the blues in a whole new way with Open Puppies. Hit the space bar each time, and a new puppy GIF will appear! But if you’re simply not a dog person, try Attack of the Cute and get a variety of cute animals starring in their own photos, posts and videos. Our hopes are that everyone remains physically and mentally healthy by continuing to practice social distancing. For updates on the coronavirus and tips on staying healthy, please visit cdc.gov/covid19. We hope these tips and resources help you do what’s best: stay socially connected but physically apart during COVID-19 to #flattenthecurve. We are resilient. We are strong. And we can fight and overcome COVID-19. But let’s not do it alone; let’s do it in the only way we know we can – together. This PSA was brought to you by Goodway Cares through the donation of select publishers.