By Samuel Still, Staff Writer –

With in-person instruction discontinued for the rest of the spring semester, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga students are faced with a new challenge: finding ways to keep busy while practicing social distancing.

Social distancing has been promised by health experts to be one of the best ways to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but, in doing so, distancers risk experiencing feelings of boredom, frustration and anxiety brought on by a lack of social connection. To combat these feelings, students can partake in stress-relieving and social-alternative activities.

While social distancing does mandate that people keep a safe amount of space between themselves and others, it does not limit a person’s ability to go outside and enjoy nature. Students who feel the need to get out of the house every once in a while can go for walks in their neighborhood or a local park as long as they maintain adequate distance from others.

“I’ve been trying to get outside as much as I can when it’s not raining,” UTC sophomore Lindsay Francisco said. “There’s really nowhere else to go, so I may go for a run outside, but I make sure not to get close to anyone.”

Some students may see social distancing as an opportunity to catch up on the latest media or to complete projects they may have missed because of school or work. Sophomore Laura Phillips said she has found her time in isolation beneficial.

“I’ve been working on some projects I’ve been trying to finish, but most of the time I’ve been trying to make it through my Netflix watchlist since I have so much time on my hands now,” Phillips said.

For students like Phillips who are looking to explore the digital library of Netflix, there is a free browser extension for Google Chrome called Netflix Party that allows friends to watch any TV show or movie on Netflix simultaneously without having to be in the same room. Netflix Party is a great way for students to socialize with their friends and family without having to sacrifice the safety of social distancing.

Additionally, video chat apps like FaceTime, Google Duo and Houseparty allow friends and family to use their devices to interact without having to be in the same home. Through these apps, students can maintain social connections while keeping themselves and others safe from the coronavirus.

Ultimately, students who are practicing social distancing and self-isolation are doing themselves and everyone around them a service, even if it comes at the expense of changing their normal routines. With the internet at their disposal, it is still possible for students to maintain a sense of normalcy through online social networks.

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