Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), expressed concern over the rise in Covid-19 cases in the US in the third week of March this year when the seven-day average of new daily cases increased to 53,800.
She attributes the climb to new variant strains of the coronavirus and relaxed preventive measures in more states. Walensky warned that the pandemic is not yet over despite the rollout of vaccines. She emphasized that people must still follow preventive measures even if they want to spend time with loved ones and friends.
This means that gatherings are still health risks for now. You can still celebrate special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, and graduations, but it is best to do it at home and keep your guests online.
Benefits of Virtual Parties
CDC acknowledges that physical isolation to avoid Covid-19 is causing stress and anxiety. It can make us feel worried, afraid, angry, frustrated, sad, or numb. It causes drastic changes in eating and sleeping patterns, low energy, detachment, lack of interest in doing things, and difficulty in concentrating and decision-making. It can manifest as headaches, body and stomach pains, or skin breakouts. It can worsen existing chronic diseases or mental health problems.
According to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Stress in America 2020 survey, there is a national mental health crisis because of the pandemic. APA stated that Gen Z adults, or those belonging to the ages of 18 to 23, reported the highest levels of stress. Next was Gen X or those who are 41 to 56 years old.
To minimize the adverse effects of stress, CDC recommends regular exercise, sufficient good quality sleep, meditation, and healthy well-balanced meals.
Both CDC and APA recommend nurturing meaningful connections and social interactions while following pandemic health and safety guidelines.
Holding virtual parties among family and friends fits the bill. They strengthen relationships that nourish your emotional and psychological health. By doing so, they are strengthening your immune function and protecting your physical health.
Decorations, Food, Activities
Decorations are the key to make a party look festive. The advantage of having a virtual party is that you do not need to decorate the entire venue. You only need to focus on one area that will be the background of the camera. The entire party will happen against this background. If you have potted houseplants, you can move and arrange these to add interest to your background.
You can use other materials you already have at home and make the decorations yourself. For instance, you can hang a plain bedsheet as your basic backdrop. You can use foil paper in many ways to provide a nice sparkle. You can cut out letters from cardboard and wrap these in crumpled foil to spell out a greeting or a name and attach these to the bedsheet.
On the other hand, you can order balloons and other party decorations online if you are not into arts and crafts. You can align your virtual party with the other recommendations of CDC.
There is no reason why you cannot share food at a virtual party. You can have the same kinds of food delivered to your guests so that at party time you are all enjoying the same fare. Make sure you choose a nutritious and well-balanced menu. Avoid junk food, highly processed food, and food that is high in sugar and sodium.
To encourage physical activity, you can choose games that will require your online guests to stand up and move around. One example is a scavenger hunt. Choose items that are common in households but not in reach, such as kitchen items usually stored in drawers. Another game that you can tweak to involve physical activity is “Simon Says”. There are also many free online virtual party games that you can choose from.
There will always be reasons to celebrate even amid the coronavirus pandemic. Being alive in these difficult times is enough cause to rejoice. We must recognize and reflect on the good things that happen each day, from the smallest to the largest, and express gratitude for them. This is one of the best ways to handle extreme stress.
Holding virtual parties from home to celebrate among family and friends are life-giving events. Engagements, pregnancies, gender reveals, birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries are just some special occasions that you can mark with virtual gatherings. APA even suggests the invention of new traditions and celebrations that are meaningful and that honor each other. Amid the difficulties of the new normal, it is important to support each other this way.