How to stay connected with friends while social distancing

Who would have thought one day we'd help save the world by staying at home? Though most of us have found ways of adapting to the new normal (stuck at home with Netflix and Animal Crossing? Sign me in!) isolation can weigh a lot on your mental health.

Thanks to the Internet, social distancing doesn't mean completely cutting yourself off from the world outside anymore. There are tons of ways to stay connected with your loved ones through social distancing - we've put together 8 of our favourite ones so you can keep in touch, while keeping it fun.

How to stay connected with friends while social distancing

1. Get TikTok-famous

TikTok choreographies are a big hit among teenagers - you've probably seen one or two, scrolling down your timeline. Social distancing has forced families to stay at home together and what could be better than a fun dance routine to avoid arguing with your brother over who gets the TV remote? Tons of families have now tried the popular "Blinding Lights" (by The Weeknd) choreography: jumping, waving arms in the air, makes this one an ideal way to maintain a social bond with your family and stay physically active. Why not try it too and challenge your friends to a dance-off?

2. Dress it up!

Fancy a little fashion challenge to channel your inner Tyra Banks during isolation? We've got your back. Give your friends a 14-day challenge, each day with a different theme (90's sitcom, Studio Ghibli movies, girl band, Downton Abbey realness - the possibilities are endless). Every morning, you'll have to dress up following the theme and share a picture or video with your friends. It's a fun and creative activity but also a good way of staying motivated and actually getting out of your favourite pyjamas every day.

3. Reinvent dating

Self isolated or not, you don't have to give up on dating if you're single! Dating apps have never been busier and bored singletons around the world are finding creative ways to maintain a romantic social life despite the circumstances. Chats, voice notes, FaceTime or even a Netflix party: there are tons of ways to spend time with someone, just as you would during a real-life date (remember those?). On the plus side, many single people love that this new configuration allows them to get to know each other better at first, before meeting face-to-face. Who knows? Maybe in 10 years' time you'll have a cute story to tell your children about how their parents met!

4. Online board games

From Pictionary aficionados to Cards Against Humanity fans: there's so many ways to play your favourite game with your friends online.Our favourite: Skribbl, an online pictionary game where you can play in private rooms with your friends, or in public ones with strangers. Try booking a specific hour to begin the game, let's say 30 minutes after work: this will give you something to look forward to during the day, and will help you stick to your work schedule.

5. Netflix party down

Miss watching shows like Love is Blind or Tiger King and sharing the drama with your besties? Netflix Party is perfect for you. This extension allows you to watch any Netflix show with a chatroom right on the side to live-comment and share hot takes while watching the show, synchronised with your mates. All you need to do is install the extension on your browser and tell your friends to do the same. Then grab yourselves some popcorn, sit back and voila: movie night!

6. Recreate famous paintings at home

Though self isolation can be quite daunting, it also brings out the best of our creativity (well, most of the time anyway). The Museum challenge brought people together around the best hobby ever: recreating famous paintings in your living room. Whether it's "The Woman in Biscuits" by Klimt or the iconic "Hunt of the Good Doggo", you'll find a lot of inspiration on social media, before reproducing your own favourite painting. You can elevate the levels of fun by challenging your friends to do the same, or even getting your parents to give it a go. But most importantly, it gives you a nice creative hobby away from screens - at least until you become an Instagram icon.

7. Online karaoke

Who doesn't love an evening out with some karaoke? Well, what about an online karaoke night in, that you can enjoy from the comfort of your home! It's super easy, fun and if one of your friends happens to really feel this Celine Dion hit a bit too fiercely, you can just lower the volume. All you need to do is connect on the video call app of your choice (Zoom, Houseparty…you name it), go on watch2gether.com to share the karaoke lyrics with the group and just give it all you got on the dancefloor. Don't let the different ambience put you off - if you close your eyes, you can feel the sticky, beer-soaked floor of a pub, without ruining your shoes. Your neighbours might not be your biggest fans but what's a diva without haters?

8. Stay active

We really can't say this enough: staying active is the best way to take care of your physical and mental health. But sometimes, exercising by yourself can get a bit boring. Why not schedule a group workout with your besties? Whether it's dancing, cardio or yoga: launch the workout of your choice on watch2gether.com, call your friends and enjoy your fitness session! If you don't feel like exercising in front of your friends but still need some motivation, lots of fitness YouTubers have 30-day challenges you can share with your friends. No need to witness each other sweat, you can just debrief with a little glass of wine in the evening and still get the motivation you need to stay active.