How to Stay Connected to Friends and Family During COVID-19
While we’re practicing social distancing to help stop the spread of coronavirus — oh the joys of experiencing a global pandemic — it’s important to not get too distant from your friends and family. Fortunately, social contact at a distance has become one of the hallmarks of the modern age. You don’t have to let COVID-19 stop you from keeping in touch with the ones you love. Here are a few ways to stay close to your loved ones, whether they’re far away or staying in the same house.
Virtually Recreate Your Group Hangs
Using your tablet, cell phone, or laptop, think up creative ways to share the activities you enjoyed before quarantine. It’s easy enough to simulate most social situations over a video chat or a phone call.
Mimic the movie theater experience with a projector and a popcorn machine, then chat about the same show from your own home theaters. Emcee trivia from your home bar to bring your league online, using board games for questions. Set up a home studio full of music equipment to jam over a digital choir or band practice. Live stream from your yoga mat or Facetime a stationary bike ride in your home gym to keep fit with your workout buddy.
Share Your New Wellness Routines
Bring your friends and family into the positive routines you’ve developed in quarantine. Use a webcam or digital camera to take up a mini version of vlogging while you’re self-isolating or type out daily or weekly recaps to send via email. Whether it’s new beauty supplies, fitness and nutrition regimens, or wardrobe additions – let people know how you’re staying sane. If you prefer live feedback, use FaceTime to take your audience along on a walk with your dog or watch the sunset together; fit your loved ones into your day, even if it’s folding your laundry at the same time.
You can send your recorded recaps through voice memos, or even publicly post them on Youtube or social media to grow your audience. You’ll find that building a community around life’s little moments will help you feel more motivated and less isolated during quarantine. You can even build a photo studio to continue vlogging after the coronavirus has been contained. For a more tangible way to commemorate your quarantine experience, fill a scrapbook with Polaroid shots and text snapshots of the pages to family and friends.
Host a Workshop or Start a Craft Club
Host a virtual workshop for a hobby or interest you’d either love to teach or learn alongside your friends and family. You can hold a poker night, or give lessons in a language or instrument, or demonstrate how to use power tools for home repair and DIY projects. It’s like show-and-tell for adults.
Creative activities also provide a way to bond with your loved ones while relieving some of the stress and anxiety you may feel from being stuck in your house during quarantine. If you’re in the same house, you can do these projects together: a wine and paint night, a writer’s group, a sewing circle, a jewelry making party. Even if your loved ones are far away, you can send pictures of the crafts that you do or join each other online for a digital class.
For a culturally educational experience, swap travel tips and collaborate on a vision board to plan a trip itinerary. Or make a bucket list of what you’ll want to do together when quarantine is over. You can get inspiration by exploring virtual tours of landmarks, zoos, museums, etc.
Start a Friendly Competition
Playing games is a great way to let off your nervous energy and relieve boredom while growing closer to friends and family during the pandemic.
To raise the stakes in remote relationships, see who can cook the best dinner with the same ingredients, or finish a puzzle first, or grow their home garden the fastest. Using iCloud, Dropbox, or Google Drive, you can upload and comment on photos to compete in scavenger hunts, or trade pics of yourself from bygone eras. Hook up your video gaming console to compete in a multiplayer online game and chat over your headsets. In fact, invest in a few bean bags and a quality entertainment center if gaming is a regular activity in your household.
For quarantine companions looking to compete, deck out a rec room with a dart board and pool table, or get some fresh air by playing a favorite sport or an old school lawn game like cornhole and bocce ball. For more ways to enjoy the outdoors, check out our guide.
Make the Most of Every Meal
For some sense of normalcy, you can still grab coffee or lunch with your coworkers via a videoconference. Just replace breakroom conversation and cafeteria trays with a Zoom call at your kitchen island or patio set. Create a separate Slack channel full of links to memes, articles, and Youtube videos to keep the water cooler talk flowing during isolation.
As for your evenings – this is the perfect time to stock up that bar cart or pantry with kitchen essentials. Become a mixologist or chef: fill a collaborative Google Doc with recipes invented by your friends or relatives. You’ll have written a cookbook together by the end of quarantine; you can also work through an actual cookbook together and share the experience remotely. If you regularly played hostess to a happy hour or dinner party, honor the tradition over a video chat on Google Hangouts or Skype. But up the ante: choose a theme and face-off with a costume contest during the call.
Whether you’re quarantined with a partner or communicating with them long-distance, class up a dining table full of takeout with fancy tablecloths, candles, and serveware for the date night restaurant experience.
Hang With Your Homebodies
Engage with those near and dear to you. With good speakers, your front lawn or balcony can become the site for social distance dance parties throughout your whole block. Or gather around a fire pit from a few spaced-out folding chairs for a more intimate chat with your next-door neighbors.
If you’re quarantining with kiddos, make sure to keep them entertained. Schedule virtual play dates with their cousins, neighbors, and school friends: you can lay out a picnic in the living room or pitch a camp site in the backyard. Give your kids an arts and crafts corner to draw pictures or make cards for their grandparents or teachers. Look into a good mix of educational toys and pretend play items to stay mentally stimulated (maybe even a swing set or trampoline to stay active). If you’re a parent or aunt or uncle who’s not in the same household, read your kiddo a bedtime story every night over video chat, or help them stay mindful by practicing daily gratitude or relaxation exercises together over the phone.
Make a Shared Media List
Sharing playlists, watch lists, and read lists with loved ones is a great way to share your taste and get some great recommendations in return. It’ll help you to concentrate on something other than the coronavirus, while also deepening your relationships and nourishing your mind.
Music reduces stress and improves mood, so tune into the same live global concert experience or play records in the background of your chats. You can build collaborative playlist for a future gathering when the coronavirus is contained. To start a virtual book club, load up your Kindle with bestsellers. Host book discussions over video chats or send audio recordings of your thoughts on passages and your favorite quotes. Film fanatics can stream the same movie from their own home theaters and rotate who gets to pick the flick (or cast a communal vote). Then rate and debate, Ebert-and-Roeper style.
Send a Letter or Care Package
You don’t have to plug in to take advantage of this time the quarantine is providing to make or maintain social connections. There’s something extra special about a handwritten note or a care package. A gift basket is an especially warm and thoughtful gesture that will make the recipient feel loved, especially when it’s full of self-care items like face masks and candles. Get yourself a matching basket so you can treat yourselves to a couple’s spa day over a virtual hang sesh.
A social calendar can keep track of who you haven’t touched base with in a while and help ensure that you don’t forget to celebrate milestones, like birthdays and anniversaries.
Physical distancing doesn’t mean you have to stop being social. Even if you can’t meet in person, you can brighten each day by setting aside time to catch up with those that matter most.
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