How to socialise after the COVID-19 pandemic

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Published 2020-06-24 10:00

For most of us, the past few months practically translated into isolation. Not being able to have a drink or grab a bite with friends, go clubbing, or chat-chat with people at the park has been a real challenge for some. Now that the lockdown has come to an end in most countries, even though we still have to take precautions, it's high time to socialise. Here are some tips for getting started.

Today, social networks are an essential part of our life, be it Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. We should be grateful to them for keeping us updated regarding the news and what's going on in the lives of people around us and those who are far away but still matter a lot to us. The use of apps like Whatsapp, Viber and Skype, Zoom, etc., became even more widespread. Keeping in touch hasn't been such an issue. Now that the lockdown is over, people have started to go out, but hesitantly. It's even more complicated for those who are miles away from their home country, especially those who don't have a social circle yet.

Get back to your routine life slowly

Most of us have spent the past few months working from home, with most communications taking place via apps like Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc. Many have also found a way to socialise remotely during the lockdown: Zoom afterworks. Now that you're back to office life, think about your social life as well. We don't mean that you should start partying after work, but you could hang out in small groups for a start. In most countries, bars and restaurants are back to business, so you could plan a small afterwork while keeping in mind social distancing and other precautions like sanitising your hands regularly, avoid touching your face, etc. It's worth noting that many restaurants around the world are taking social distancing very seriously -- with tables being places at least one meter away from each other, and, some being separated by the installation of plexiglass walls. If you feel that it's too much, keep in mind that socialising in these conditions is much better than spending whole days and nights alone in your apartment.

Contactless greeting is the new norm

Your first reaction on reuniting with your dear ones would be to hug and kiss them on the cheek, and it's quite normal, depending on your culture. However, it's something that you'll have to avoid for a while. So you might be wondering how to greet your colleagues in the morning. Rather than handshaking or kissing on the cheek, go for the Ebola handshake -- which means touching elbows. Footshake can actually be fun with your close friends. If you're in Asia, a simple Namaste would do -- just join your palms in front of your chest. In Arab countries, you could just touch your heart with the palm of your hand, and that's it.

Go for outdoor meetups

Having dinner with your friends or family is probably something you've been missing for a while, but would that be safe to call them over at home? Instead, plan a small picnic at the park, at the beach or by the riverside. Meeting in an open space means less sanitary risks, and social distancing will be much easier. Also, you'll be sure that everything you're using has been cleaned properly. However, avoid gathering too many people at the same time so you can repeat with another small group. Outdoor sports like walking, jogging or hiking ar another interesting option if you're a nature lover. In any case, make sure the people you're hanging out with haven't been exposed to any health risks lately.

Safety first!

If you've always had a busy social life, you're probably impatient for things to get back to normal. In most countries, however, major events such as concerts or others remain prohibited until further notice. So how do you socialise then? Keep an eye on events being advertised on social networks or via word of mouth, but also check the location and the number of people who are planning to attend. It would be wise to avoid crowded places for now. For example, if you're looking to eat out, go outside peak hours when there will be fewer people.

What if you don't yet have a social circle?

If you relocated just before the start of the pandemic, it is very likely that you have not yet taken your bearings. In such a case, you probably don't have a social circle you can rely on. You will also agree that there are less chances people you come across in the street or at the cafe to chitchat with you, and that could lead to a feeling of isolation. However, don't despair. Social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook can be of great help. Start by joining groups of expatriates living in your host country and feel free to share your feelings with them. Expat.com's forums are another precious resource. When things get back to normal, don't be surprised to be called over for a drink or a barbecue night.

In the meantime, try to be patient and, above all, stay safe!