ZP has joined forces with Thrive Global to bring you the best possible advice on how you can make better choices. We hope you’ll enjoy the stories we create for you!

Millions of people are practicing “social distancing” for the first time in their lives: Staying six feet away from each other and/or not leaving home unless it’s for groceries or work. The concept is new, and may feel strange, but it’s an essential measure that must be taken to help stop the spread of coronavirus

But while these unfamiliar guidelines are saving lives, they can put a wrench in the process of staying connected to our friends and family, which is vital for our health and well-being.

Feeling disconnected can actually increase the risk of health problems like heart disease, depression, and dementia. But that’s easy to avoid, because “micro-interactions” — small actions you can do from a distance, like smiles, nods, and asking “how are you” — can help improve our happiness. 

We can also reframe this experience as an opportunity to build stronger bonds with our friends and family in unconventional ways. Here are four small steps to help you stay connected while practicing social distancing.

Swap a handshake for an elbow bump or another friendly gesture. Even a warm smile can help us feel the power of connection from a safe distance. 

When you’re feeling lonely, schedule a virtual coffee break with a friend or family member. Social isolation can have powerful negative effects on your health, but spending time with others — even virtually — helps you stay connected.

Schedule a regular check-in with your parent or relative. Set a daily reminder on your phone. Even a quick call or text will help them feel more connected in an isolating time.

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