How to celebrate with family while keeping your physical distance

illustration of family that is practicing social distancing

With stay-at-home orders in place across our state and country, coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed the way we interact with everyone, including our family and friends.

Traditional family gatherings are on hold. Easter Sunday dinners and Passover seders won’t look like they have in previous years.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t find creative ways to celebrate these holidays and other get-togethers with our loved ones.

While we are hearing a lot about social distancing, I’d like to think of it more as physical distancing. Staying connected to other people is vital to our mental health – even if that means we’re not in the same physical space. That’s where technology can be a wonderful tool.

Tools such as Zoom, FaceTime and Skype can help keep your holiday traditions alive. For example, if you have plans for a special holiday dinner, you can arrange to have all of your family members log in at the same time and share a meal virtually. If an Easter egg hunt is part of your annual celebrations, see if you can do a live broadcast of your children scouting for eggs. Many churches and other houses of worship are holding online services, too.

During these unusual times, the elderly tend to be the most vulnerable, as they may live alone and are unable to see their children and grandchildren. That’s why it’s important to still do things that are joyful and to include older family members as much as possible in these activities. It’s beneficial for your children, too!

Looking ahead

As we look past the spring holidays and ahead to the next few months, consider other ways to stay in touch, such as a simple phone call or a good old-fashioned letter. Writing letters is something we’ve gotten away from over the years. But receiving a letter in the mail will really lift your spirits – especially now.

Social media can also be a great distraction in uncertain times. We could all use a little humor and lightheartedness and it is yet another way to stay connected to others while keeping our physical distance. But on the flip side, social media can also be full of negativity, rumors and misinformation. If you find yourself getting bogged down by too much bad news, it’s time to log off.

We often caution against allowing children to spend too much time on their devices. However, encourage your kids to call or FaceTime with their friends that they can’t see right now. Playing video games and other online games with friends is another good way for them to socialize from afar.

Mental health matters

These times are trying for everyone. If you struggle with your mental health, it’s especially difficult. Many people with mental health issues may want to isolate themselves, but connecting with other people becomes more important than ever.

For people who take medication, make sure you fill your prescriptions and stock up on any medications you are on (some pharmacies, such as CVS, are offering free delivery.) If you can, arrange telehealth visits with your therapist or provider.

And don’t forget to practice self-care. One of my favorite breathing exercises is to breathe in faith and breathe out fear. I like to do a series of three cleansing breaths.

Above all, remember that this isn’t going to last forever and we are all in this together.


Jo Deaton is the senior director of nursing for Behavioral Health at Anne Arundel Medical Center. She can be reached at 667-204-7313.