As the COVID-19 pandemic continues across the country, it is understandable why many people may be feeling isolated or disconnected from family, friends and coworkers. Even as some areas of the country begin to reopen, it is still important to take steps to maintain our health and safety. However, physical distancing does not have to mean social distancing. There are a number of ways to safely stay in touch with loved ones and maintain our relationships, even if we cannot get together in the ways we are accustomed to. Here are a few ideas to help you keep in touch right now:
Get creative! After nearly half a year, the standard video calls may be less exciting than they were early on. However, it is possible to infuse some new energy into these virtual gatherings. Try doing an activity together over video. There are apps that allow you to play games together over Zoom or similar platforms. Do a virtual movie night where everyone watches the same show or movie simultaneously and texts or chats about it via Netflix Party or another program. Think outside the box, too! Perhaps everyone picks up flowers to arrange into bouquets together over video and see what each other comes up with. You could also do virtual cooking or tasting get-togethers by making or purchasing the same recipes/foods and trying them at the same time to compare notes. If there is an activity you enjoy in person, there may be a way to transition to online. While it will not be the same, it is still a fun way to stay connected with others.
Become pen pals. If you or your kids have loved ones far away, start a pen pal correspondence. Aunts, uncles and grandparents love receiving handmade cards from the kids in their lives, and it is a fun activity for younger ones to create notes or pictures to send in the mail. They can even write to other young friends or cousins! For adults, letter writing is a great way to share stories or memories that can be kept and re-read for years to come while providing a way to connect that stands the test of time. There is something special about writing a letter that is different from our go-to text or email messaging.
Spread good cheer. This is a tough time for many people. For neighbors, friends or family who live nearby, drop off a basket of treats to bring a smile to their faces. This could include their favorite foods, games or puzzles, flowers, a new cup or mug, or any other little goodies they might enjoy. It will be such a fun surprise to find at their door and will spread joy knowing you were thinking of them right now. Maybe it will even start a chain as they pay it forward and surprise someone else!
Get together safely. First, it is important to follow your local health and safety guidelines as well as determine your own risk and comfort level with in-person get-togethers. There are a number of ways to follow distancing and safety protocols while still seeing friends and loved ones in person. For example, you could meet at a park for a walk wearing masks and keeping a safe distance. You could also spread blankets or towels six feet apart to relax and enjoy the sunshine together. Additionally, some gyms and fitness centers are offering outdoor classes where participants are safely distanced and wearing masks. This is a great way to stay active and meet with others while following safety guidelines. The warm weather will still be here for a bit longer, so use that to our advantage!
Life looks very different these days, but by getting creative we can still keep in touch with our loved ones, even across distances.