After spending months socially distancing from friends and family, it may be time to expand your circle during the COVID-19 pandemic. I heard the saying during the lockdown "Check in on your extrovert friends- they are NOT okay." And I have to wholeheartedly agree. As someone who enjoyed dining out, grabbing drinks, group workout classes, attending concerts, and essentially the life of a social butterfly, once we were told to shelter-in-place I found myself not really knowing what to do with a lot of the free time I now had. There were no social engagements, no dinner parties, no concerts, basically no social events to look forward to in the near future. This gave me a lot of time to be at home, but there are only so many times I can reorganize my furniture and attempt to work out in my backyard. I wondered if I was the only one struggling with being alone so much, and I found out I wasn't. I spoke to other single millennials and found that they were having many of the same issues I was, and it was now starting to affect their mental health too. From there, I found a small group of friends and we decided to start our own "Quarantine Crew."

Our group consisted of 5 members, all living alone and working from home (I was the only exception but since I work with such a small amount of people they let it slide). Our group basically made a pact- we weren't allowed to hang out with anyone else and only left our homes for essential reasons. As long as we followed these 2 rules, we would still hang out with each other. Most of us have elderly family members we still wanted to be able to see since we didn't know how long the lockdown would last. This meant we all had a good reason to isolate as much as we could outside of the group. I have to admit, my Quarantine Crew was my only savior during that time. Whenever I found myself lonely or wondering what the real world would look like post-pandemic, I could message the crew and we would schedule a hangout. We could go to each other's house and hang out 6-feet apart from each other or even watch a movie. As long as we weren't touching or sharing drinks or food, we felt safe. We did get a lot of criticism for our decision but I felt it was necessary given the circumstances and it turns out we weren't the only ones who thought of this idea.

A writer for Slate explained that her friends made a quarantine pod or bubble, similar to our crew. According to the article, a quarantine pod is a "combination of 2 or 3 households that make up a larger isolated unit." This bubble or pod is a group that you can interact with while still trying to isolate from the public. If one member of the pod is potentially exposed, this also helps keep contamination low since that person has been around less than 10 people. Pods are good not only for social interaction but also for members of the pod or bubble by allowing less trips into public. I had the Sam's Club card so I would go there and pick-up any extras someone else might need, another lived closer to the grocery store, and another at the all-important liquor store. We were able to cut down our trips and make a day of errands into a trip to one store.

Now, as our country is on the brink of a second wave of COVID-19 cases, many are wondering if they should prepare to self-isolate again. If you do, I suggest trying to arrange a quarantine crew for yourself. Talk to your friends or familyand see who is serious about wanting to isolate again and seeing their comfort level with making a group. It could be beneficial or your mental and physical health. For tips and advice on how to start your quarantine crew, check out this article.