NORTH CAROLINA -- We all have been told to socially distance, which means staying at least six feet apart from one another. But, the World Health Organization is now referring to it as "physically distancing" instead. Experts say while keeping our distance is key, so is staying socially connected to our friends and family.
Virtal happy hours and Facetime birthday celebrations are becoming the new norm. Through technology, people are able to keep that social connection while having to physically be apart.
“I think that the World Health Organization has made the recommendation that we should go with physical distancing and not social distancing because it’s so important to stay socially connected," explained Dr. Scott Griffies, the director of clinical education at MindPath Care Centers. “We’re hard-wired to need that. It’s part of our basic biological needs.”
It's a need that Avalara, a tax compliance software company, is recognizing. “The company itself has become very creative with what we can do to make sure we’re seeing each other every day. We’re having those conversations virtually,” said Jordan Tobler, a sales development manager for Avalara. “I think it’s really helped to keep the morale high.”
She says before the COVID-19 pandemic happened, employees would meet for "tiki time" at the end of their work day. “Every day at 5 p.m. employees are welcome to come down to the tiki lounge at our Durham office to grab a beverage and decompress before heading home."
But now, that's changed. “We just decided 'Hey if we can’t have our tiki time in the office, we are darned going to have it virtually,'” explained Tobler.
From talks about weekend plans to introducing fur babies, it’s something the whole team looks forward to.
Whether you Facetime family or participate in your own version of tiki time, experts say it's important for all aspects of your health.
“We talk about how our social needs are something that is good for our health,” said Dr. Griffies. “But, it translates into biological needs, it really does. There are some really incredible studies showing that our immune systems are not as effective when we aren’t having social connections, or social isolation leads to incredibly high stress.”