Sometimes we have to isolate ourselves from others - illness, epidemics, security issues...
But that doesn't mean we have to isolate ourselves socially. On the contrary, now we need connection – and that's different from contact – more than ever.
How can we stay connected with others if we're holed up at home and cannot go out?
Some of us are very social, and being cut off from others is painful. For others, who are more reserved, this is an opportunity to reach out and connect with others.
We KNOW all this, but this is a good time to remember things we may have let go or forgotten because of our busy lives, things like...
Think about it: Is there a young family member you could read a story to at night via Skype?
Or if you're missing your friends, why not have a virtual dinner party? I did that with a friend who had moved to Istanbul: she had dinner, I had dinner, and we simply kept our iPads on throughout the meal (almost like being there!)
I wasn't quite sure where to start, so like every good plan, it started with a list:
Being physically isolated offers us an incredible opportunity to break some of those social barriers and enlarge our group of friends.
Here are some places we can meet up not-in-person and ideas of what to do once we've been politely introduced!
(And a proviso, of course: this is online, and this is Planet Earth, and not everything is always as it seems so please take your safety precautions when 'meeting' someone online: no private details, no street address, nothing that might leave you open to an unsafe situation! But then... you know that, right?)
Many people dislike Facebook, and yes, there's a lot to dislike. But Facebook does have a way of bringing people together and that can't be neglected.
Just type your special interest into the Facebook Search bar at the top left and – Search!
You may not like social media in any shape or form – not just a Facebook dislike, but EVERYTHING. Have you tried them all? There may be one you like! Where I'm on social media, the links will take you to my own social media pages.
You can also watch Netflix with friends through the Google Chrome extension Netflix Party.
For those of you who don't like Facebook, remember those ancient online forums? Well, they're still kicking and some of them are incredibly popular and active!
Or just head for Google and search for "best online forums for women over 50" or any combination thereof. While most forums are mixed, many have women's sections and issues specifically relevant to women.
There are also plenty of forums for special interests and again, just use your browser's Search function. You can find forums for dog or cat lovers, book collectors, knitters and crocheters, dieters, gardeners, business women, history buffs... you name it, it's out there.
One of my faves for books (I'm a voracious reader) is Goodreads – you'll be able to chat about your best reads to your heart's content.
And here's something else I enjoyed tremendously: practising a foreign language via Skype. I did this through My Language Exchange, where people post the language they 'own' and the one they want to learn, and set up times to talk. I remember looking forward to Monday nights years ago, when I would Skype with a Brazilian gentleman – a retired insurance salesman – who wanted to work on his English, and I on my Brazilian Portuguese. Not only did I learn the language, but all about middle-class life in a mid-sized Brazilian city, a peek into a foreign culture I'd never have had otherwise.
It's not only about keeping ourselves busy and connected, but also about others. There are plenty of people out there who may need our help and while we cannot do it in person, why not take some time online to help someone less fortunate?
Or call your favorite charity and ask: Is there anything you can do from home?
That doesn't mean we can't have fun because it takes a bit of everything to make a life. So if you find something that makes you chuckle, send it along to your friends. Sometimes you don't even need to say a word – a funny picture will speak for itself.
And if you see an uplifting story, filled with love and support and compassion, send it around to those you love – there's still not enough of that going around.
You don't have to. You may be happy to be at home alone. Or perhaps you have family with you and have company. But after a few days, the routine may get to you and you may be looking for something new and different to capture your attention.
Here are a few ideas of things you might do – chances are you've already got most of these on your list but... just in case (plus it's a list and I love those!)
We do love art but unless we're traveling and headed for a museum, we see precious little art. How many times do we make time for ballet, concerts or opera when we're home? Even if we do, it's not something we'll be able to do for the forseeable future but, thankfully, there are alternatives.
And art isn't just visual!
And if you're a writer...
Once you're online, your choices are limitless.
This may be your chance to learn something you've been wanting to but never had the opportunity or the time. Here are a few things you could do to get your gray cells into action:
Those of us who work from home or have freelance careers have a unique opportunity to catch up on all those things we've let slide because... we've been working!
That includes such things as answering old emails, making plans and strategies, checking goals, leaning new skills (I'm still working on more and better video!), writing things that may only get published sometime in the future, giving ourselves time to brainstorm new ideas or approach new partners, and reaching out to people in our area of work who might not have had time for us before, but now, who knows?
All those travels probably mean you have tons of photos stashed away on your phone, camera or stray flash drives. How long has it been since you backed them up? Catalogued them? Ordered them and deleted duplicates? Even better, this could be your chance to choose some of the best, and create and order your own photo book.
Please - don't forget to exercise! When times get stressful, working up a bit of a sweat is one of the healthiest things you can do. Nothing too fancy though - this isn't the time to twist or break something. If we're used to moving around a lot on foot or bike, staying at home may mean we'll slow down a bit – and that's not necessarily good.
So let's keep moving! We can...
While there’s something quite refreshing about not needing to wash your hair as often, put makeup on each morning or wear different clothes every day, there comes a point at which you may want to spoil yourself.
It may be time for some self-pampering: Give yourself an at-home mani-pedi, treat your hair or face to a mask, or indulge in an aromatherapy foot soak.
How many tasks have you left unfinished at home because you simply didn't have the time? These might include...
Just because you can't go somewhere doesn't mean you can't... go somewhere. Why not visit a place virtually? Like taking this Bordeaux virtual tour, for example, or this look at the US National Parks.
This might be a good time to review your bucket list because it may have changed... start thinking not only of where you want to travel but how, and begin researching!
You can also feel like you're in a different country by listening to local radio: here's an app that lets you sample local stations from around the world.
Some people are being innovative in keeping their spirits up and themselves occupied during the crisis: Have you seen all the Italians singing from their balconies? Here's the video.
There's nothing music cannot improve!