How long has it been since you hugged anyone not living in your household? Hopefully the answer is “weeks,” which is sad but necessary in the age of Coronavirus quarantine.
But foregoing handshakes, embraces, and sneak-attack booty grabs doesn’t mean you lose all sense of human connection. While you probably shouldn’t lick strangers’ faces on hiking trails, try these six ways to fill your connection quota in the era of social distancing.
Put those other senses to work
Touch is a powerful sensory experience, but you can stir up other happy vibes by tapping into the rest of your five senses.
Think of your favorite place in Bend. Got it?
Now put yourself back in that space. Imagine the stroke of sunbeams on your bare shoulders or the tickle of snowflakes on the back of your hand. Picture the confetti hues of sunrise above a shimmering lake, or the rippling ribbon of river spilling over rocks at your secret fishing spot.
Take your tastebuds on a trip back to that first chilly sip of fresh-hopped IPA and the warm glow of the fire pit at your favorite Bend Ale Trail stop. It helps if you grab a six-pack of made-in-Bend beer at the grocery store or order takeout from a Bend brewery.
Smell is one of the most powerful memory triggers, and this blog post might help you conjure some of Bend’s finest scents. To enhance your olfactory experience while social distancing, check out Bend-based Broken Top Candle Company. They sell soaps, candles, lotions, hand sanitizer, and more in Central Oregon-inspired fragrances like Juniper Smoke or a Cardamom Vanilla that’ll have you reminiscing about Sparrow Bakery Ocean Rolls (which, incidentally, can be delivered right to your door if you live in Bend).
Kick that heart into high gear
If hugging co-workers or groping strangers in the grocery store is the normal way you rev your engine, it’s time to find an alternate fuel source.
Get your pulse pounding with a brisk walk around your neighborhood. Go for a trail run or bike ride near your house (though don’t forget most trailheads are closed and first responders are swamped, so keep it tame and close to home).
Larger fitness chains with Bend locations are offering ample opportunities for online workouts. Check out the YouTube channel for Orange Theory Fitness or the daily workouts on Facebook Live from Planet Fitness.
CycleBar in the Old Mill District is offering its members 60 free days of their new CycleBar GO, along with free access to the streaming versions of Club Pilates, Pure Barre, Row House, StretchLab, Yoga 6, AKT, and Stride.
If yoga’s your jam, Namaspa, Free Spirit, and Groove Yoga are just a handful of Bend studios offering live streaming and recorded content for housebound yogis.
You might also enjoy last week’s blog post on how to get your fresh air fix without being a butthead.
Reach out and touch someone (virtually)
For those missing connections with friends and co-workers, it’s time to get creative.
The Visit Bend team is a tight-knit bunch, and I’ve enjoyed roughly 1.28 million happy hours with colleagues in my decade with the company. With all of us housebound, we’ve implemented weekly Whiskey Wednesday happy hours via Zoom. While admittedly not the same as sitting together at a table in our favorite Bend restaurant or brewery, the upside is that our pets can attend and no one has to change out of pajamas.
Pick a platform like Zoom, Slack, GoToMeeting, Facetime, Google Hangouts, or one of countless freebie options on the interwebz. Try a Doodle Poll to find a time that works for your whole gang.
Then pour yourself a drink and cozy up for a chat. You can get creative with theme nights like Hawaiian or Star Wars, or dress in cocktail attire to feel like it’s a fancy night on the town.
Oh, and if you need beverage inspiration, oodles of Bend restaurants are offering takeout options for their signature cocktail mixes. Just add your own booze, or drink it virgin if you prefer.
Hug your pets
Still craving physical contact with a living, breathing being? Wrap your arms around your pet and give a nice, friendly squeeze.
Unless your pet is a goldfish. Or a Komodo dragon.
But seriously, don’t underestimate the positive power of pets during this stressful time. If you don’t have a pet, consider contacting your local animal shelter to see if they need foster parents for critters preparing to transition to forever homes.
Resist the urge to adopt if you’re not absolutely, positively, one-million percent sure you’ll have time and affection to devote to your furry friend once life goes back to normal.
Keep connected with your favorite Bend biz
While many of us are missing the ease of strolling favorite Bend shops or visiting local attractions, you can connect with the community in other ways.
Visit virtual stores for your favorite Bend businesses to shop online or snag gift certificates to help them through this challenging time. This page can point you to Bend retailers offering online shopping, curbside delivery, and more. While it’s not the same as chatting up shop staff in person, it’ll give you warm fuzzy feelings knowing you’re helping a Bend business owner keep a roof over their head.
Plenty of Bend attractions are taking to Facebook Live to keep connected to patrons. The High Desert Museum regularly does virtual tours, and they’ll interact with commenters who chime in with questions.
Synergy Health and Wellness (which normally offers services ranging from massage to nutrition counseling) is doing popup videos on Facebook Live to offer Q&A with registered dietitians on food-related topics like storage tips to make fresh produce last longer. Check it out here.
For adults only
Grownup talk, guys. Stop reading if you prefer PG blog posts. Seriously, last chance. Turn back now, ye with delicate sensibilities.
Allrighty, so touch starvation is a real thing, and there’s plenty of science behind the human need for sexual stimulation.
If you’re quarantining solo or otherwise nixing physical contact, you’re likely climbing the walls right now. Don’t do it. Wall climbing is dangerous, and Bend’s first responders have plenty on their plates.
So what’s a lusty adult human to do?
You may recall last year when a manufacturer of female pleasure aids was awarded a prestigious Innovation Award at the Consumer Electronics Show, then had the award rescinded for the sexual nature of its product, then had the award returned to them after the story blew up on national media. You can read about it here, but the important thing to know? The company, Lora DiCarlo, is based in Bend, and yep, they’re doing a brisk business right now. It’s a fab chance to support a Bend-based company while treating yourself to some good vibes (snicker).
Looking for something a little less hands-on? Grab a romance novel for a healthy dose of escapism and fantasy. Much has been written about the positive health benefits of reading romance.
Full-disclosure: In my other life, I’m a USA Today bestselling romantic comedy author, which is how I know publishers are going crazynuts discounting romance authors’ entire backlists to pennies on the dollar. Romance binge-reading has emerged as a popular quarantine passtime, and there’s never been a better time to snap up an entire series from your favorite eBook retailer. You can also hit the online collection at the Deschutes Library to browse their impressive selection of romantic reads in digital form. Bend boasts several bestselling authors as residents, and you might even spot familiar Central Oregon locales in books by Marie Harte and Leah Vale.
Go on and get yourself a healthy dose of dopamine. You deserve it.