How To Have A Zoom Happy Hour That's Just As Much Fun As The Real Thing

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With the United States going on another week of social distancing, you're probably starting to miss a lot of the normal everyday activities you did with family and friends before the coronavirus outbreak. But with a little creativity, some drinks, and a lot of help from the video-conferencing app Zoom, you can still have a Zoom Happy Hour each week with your closest friends — all while practicing safe social distancing rules.

Happy Hour isn't just about unwinding from the work week with a couple of drinks or some snacks. It's also about catching up and connecting with your friends. And just like you take the time to meet up with your friends IRL, it's important to do the same through a phone or computer screen. In fact, it might even be good for you.

For one, social distancing and long periods of isolation can take a serious toll on your mental health. “People start getting lethargic when they don’t have positive inputs into their small worlds,” John Vincent, a clinical psychologist at the University of Houston, told Wired for an article published on March 25. “We can expect depression to kick in, and depression and anxiety are kissing cousins.” Additionally, studies have connected loneliness to physical problems like weak immunities, heart disease, and high blood pressure, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' National Institute on Aging. Maintaining a consistent line of communication with your friends can help combat those feelings of isolation, and virtual happy hours are just one option.

One of the first things to remember when having a virtual Happy Hour is to schedule a time that works for everyone. With Zoom, you have the ability to schedule a future one-time meeting or even several reoccurring meetings at a set time every week. One time meetings can be for groups of friends whose availabilities may change every week. But, if you and your friends know that every Friday at 5 p.m. you'll all be free for a drink and a few laughs, you can send out a weekly reminder.

Simply go into your Meetings tab on the left side of your Zoom screen and tap Schedule a New Meeting. Here you can decide what date and time to set your meeting or meetings, how often you want them to happen, what the topic of the meeting is, and who's invited. Seeing as President Trump announced that he was extending social distancing guidelines until at least April 30, this can be a great way to ensure you and your friends are taking time out every week to spend time together in a fun (and safe) way.

And of course, you should know which drinks you'll be having during your virtual Happy Hour. If you want to get fancy, you could all try your hand at making "quarantinis." Or, of course, feel free to drink what you prefer or have available. Mocktails are also a great option for friends who want to partake in the social aspect of the Happy Hour without drinking alcohol.

Once you have the date, time, and the drinks, all that's left is to show up and have a good time. You can enter your Zoom meeting by clicking on a link invite a friend sent you or by clicking Join a Meeting on your Zoom screen and then entering the Meeting ID.

You might miss the excitement of getting off work and going to your favorite bar for a Happy Hour with your friends, but that doesn't mean you can't still have fun, considering the situation. By making the conscious effort to stay connected with your friends, you'll not only be able to maintain a sense of normalcy, but also make sure you and your friends are continuing to interact in a healthy and safe way.