Natalia Velásquez, M.S., Outreach Coordinator || Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS)
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the technical definition of social, or physical, distancing is “keeping a safe space (e.g., six feet) between yourself and other people who are not from your household in both indoor and outdoor spaces.” However, what does “social distancing” mean to social beings like us, especially when social support has been repeatedly proven to be such a critical resource for our psychological health? What can social distancing even look like so that we can balance not only the physical health and safety of ourselves and others, but also for our psychological health and well-being?
Many college students have likely moved from their childhood homes to a university where they may have expected to create relationships with faculty, friends, peers, colleagues, partners, etc. Whether these social connections were anticipated to be created during classroom learning, walks through the botanical gardens; soccer games; lunch breaks at PDH; fraternity/sorority gatherings; or other academic, social, or service organizations, all of us desire, and likely need, meaningful doses of social connection and support in our lives.
So how do we create meaningful relationships at a “social distance,” so that we can prioritize safety and health while also providing space for insightful conversations, entertainment, joy, laughter, and love?
During times like these, creativity is your best friend, so have fun with it! Maybe plan a weekend game night with friends, when classes have paused and self-care is needed. Organize a Zoom yoga session with classmates and screenshare a YouTube video that the group can follow along. Call your close family member or friend once a week while taking a walk “together” (you can walk through the botanical gardens and they can choose their favorite spot). Have a spaced-out beach date where everyone brings a snack and you decompress by the waves. There are also multitudes of multiplayer games (e.g., Jackbox, Animal Crossing, COD) that can be played online via Zoom, as well as socially distanced activities that can be enjoyed outside such as park walks, beach hangouts, and fitness challenges.
Please consider these questions as you organize socially distanced activities:
- Are you and your family/friends comfortable being physically together while at a distance? If not, consider virtual activities!
- What activities do you typically like? Try and make it distance friendly or virtual!
- How can you make this activity socially distanced friendly? Be creative!
If you find yourself having significant difficulties during your time at Florida Tech, please remember your student counseling center as we are here for you! CAPS provides a variety of mental health and wellness services to assist you and other students in successfully reaching personal, academic, and career goals. Please take a moment to visit our website: https://www.fit.edu/counseling-and-psychological-services/, which includes information on how to request services, as well as many other resources for emotional health and well-being. Our services are highly utilized and encouraged, so that you can be the healthiest Florida Tech Panther you can be!