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How to stay social while 'social distancing'

Experts say it's so important to maintain a social presence during a time of isolation.

TAMPA, Fla. — Staying social while social distancing is difficult, especially if you regularly like to spend time with friends, go out to the gym, meet friends for lunch or to grab some drinks.  

It's time to get creative and get social even when we can't physically be together with some of our friends and family because of the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

With many of us are working from home now, we aren't even getting that social interaction with our co-workers. After a week of working from home, I took the advice of an expert and met up with friends.

But this wasn't the traditional happy hour with girlfriends: We still had our favorite glass of wine, but this time we got online and FaceTimed. It's amazing how different it feels when you can see someone's face.     

My friend and I wound up adding another girlfriend to the chat and we were online for about an hour drinking wine and laughing and it made a huge difference in my mood.

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That's the reason psychologists like Dr. Jennifer Katzenstein from Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital says we have to find new ways to hang out friends and family. 

"Being able to video chat with your friends in some way. Maintaining video conferencing for meetings to the extent possible," Katzenstein said. "Keeping up with those in your neighborhood, keeping up with those that you're close with, even if that is like shouting across the fence or across the park. 

"We are social beings and so it's incredibly important for us to maintain social interactions."

Katzenstein says her family even did a virtual dinner with other family members that weren't there. So for the time being, she says we really need to forgive ourselves and our kids for that extra screen time.  

And sometimes, it's OK to loosen the rules about having phones at the dinner table if it means we get to see friends and family.

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