“Social distancing” is a frequently used term that we’ve become all too familiar with during the COVID-19 pandemic. Restrictions to protect public health have been put in place across America.
That has included canceling concerts and festivals, sports with few or no spectators, restrictions on public dining, and limitations on celebrations, schools, vacations, and personal contact.
Wow…it has been a drain on everyone. Public mask-wearing is now generally the norm, so it is difficult to even share a smile with someone. But there is “light at the end of the tunnel,” and there are ways to experience important social contact these days.
Reasons to Keep Socializing
Humans are “social animals.” We all need the warmth of real human interaction to stay healthy, both mentally and physically. Zoom calls and other virtual contacts just aren’t the same as being physically present with others. Being isolated from others can contribute to feelings of sadness, frustration, anger, and anxiety. Social connectedness can be almost as important as eating for one’s physical health.
Why Go Outdoors?
The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily by persons in close contact, typically within 6 feet. It spreads as respiratory droplets disperse into the air through breathing, talking, sneezing, or coughing. Inside, those droplets can remain in the air for minutes to hours.
Outside, fresh air is constantly moving, thereby dispersing the droplets, so exposure to the virus is less likely. On top of that, being outside can offer an emotional boost. It can be uplifting and refreshing.
Tips for Staying Social and Keeping Warm Outside
Can you stay warm outside while entertaining in the colder winter temperatures? Yes, you can.
Here are some helpful tips to enjoy the outdoors with others and keep warm at the same time. (Even though it’s not Christmas, you can sing “Chestnuts roasting over an open fire,” if you wish.) You still need to maintain some physical separation and wear masks.
- Make a covered space outside. Erect a pavilion or screened-in porch that attaches to the home or stands adjacent to it to shelter people from the elements. Alternatively, build a lean-to onto the side or back of a home. Open patio covers are also available that are 10 to 14-feet in size. Hang waterproof outdoor curtains to protect people from the elements and space heaters can provide needed warmth.
- Create an outdoor patio and gathering area. That can include an outdoor wood-burning or gas fireplace, or a nice firepit (permanent or portable.) Alternatively, choose portable patio heaters or heat sources installed under cover.
- Build some all-weather permanent seating or purchase portable weather-resistant outdoor seating. Also, you might even want to splurge on heated furniture!
- Make sure there is adequate outdoor lighting. String lights are fun and functional.
- Cozy-up the space with blankets, a great rug underfoot, and plush pillows.
A fire table is a great option for enjoying a great gathering for folks in winter weather.
Ask invited guests to wear warm clothing and then bundle up. Have nice blankets and throws on hand, or zip open some sleeping bags to use.
Don’t surrender to COVID if you can stay safe and responsible with your planning. Simply use some old parental advice: “Take it outdoors.”