By Shana Couillard
Everything is changing now. Social distancing is affecting everyone, and as AYA cancer thrivers, we are all familiar with some degree of maintaining our social relationships from a distance. Now more than ever we all need to respect our health and the health of others.
Cancer treatments can leave us with many short term and long term side effects, including a compromised immune system. How can immunocompromised people stay connected while effectively social distancing? How can we be engaged with each other, without putting ourselves or our loved ones at risk?
Here it is:
10 ways to stay connected while social distancing
10) Find funny stuff
My YACC friends have helped me through so many difficult times by sharing jokes, memes, and videos in our online community. Laughing together is a great way to relate to others and lift your own spirits.
9) Check in
If you’re feeling a little isolated, reach out. Send a little message just to say hi. Your friends are likely feeling isolated as well, so just be the first to message, text, or send an old fashioned email to your friends and ask how they are doing.
8) Community activities
We’ve all seen the videos of people singing on balconies with their neighbours, but if you don’t have singing neighbours, you can still participate in other safe community activities. Some people are painting or colouring hearts and taping their artwork to the front windows of their homes. Other people are setting up garden lights and Christmas lights to make the evenings look cheerful on their streets. Chalk art on driveways and sidewalks are being used to create community murals (bring your own chalk and stay over six feet away from neighbours while drawing).
7) Share online hugs
I have a friend who recently posted to her Facebook page that she was feeling bummed out and needed hugs. Perfect, we can do that! We can still send caring intentions through social media. Cartoon hugs, gifs, cute photos of puppies hugging, even though we cant visit each other, we can still feel supported in our friendships through social media.
6) Connect with nature
You can welcome bird visitors to your yard by putting out bird feeders or seed. Also, nesting birds will gather small pieces of cotton yarn for their homes this time of year.
5) Common interest groups
Engage with an online group that you feel connected to and participate in community threads or by starting your own conversations. YACC is a great place to meet other young adult cancer peeps in Canada. I also chat with photography groups, and recently participated in “Stapling Bread to Trees” on Reddit. My bread has the googley eyes!
4) Streaming events
Join in with the large amount of streaming events that are happening regularly now. I just watched a Dropkick Murphy’s concert with my family. We had tons of fun and felt connected to the thousands of other fans around the world who also joined in. (P.S. The new song “Mick Jones Nicked My Pudding” was rad.)
3) Netflix and chat
Are you home binge watching Netflix alone? You’re likely to know other people who are, too. Queue up a movie or tv show at the same time and watch it together. You can text comments to each other while you’re watching, or video chat.
2) Social media events
Create a social media event and invite your friends. Lots of great ideas are out there for creating social media events and games. You can have a neighbourhood scavenger hunt where you photograph a list of items from around your neighbourhood and post photos online to compare with other people’s finds. Online photo challenges and photo bingo are also popular. Go for a walk around your community, stay safely away from others, and collect photos to post to social media events with your friends.
1) Ask for help
If you’re immunocompromised and in need of anything, just ask. Our local grocery store has allocated 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. for immunocompromised people to shop in the store. Another grocery store has online shopping services and they will bring your purchase to your car. Call your local stores and find out if they are accommodating. Also, friends and family may be able to drop off things you need. Some people have worked out a plan to have items left in their driveway, or in a box at the side of the house.
We can do this! We can find ways for sharing our experiences with our friends while maintaining social distancing boundaries, and still feeling the caring support from our social communities.
Stay safe and stay cozy!