In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we're all keeping our distance from everyone who doesn't live in our household, including friends and family. But it isn't an easy thing to do, especially during such stressful and unpredictable times.
We're all in this together, and we need each other more than ever. So, we've compiled a list of 11 ways to come closer together with loved ones, while still staying far apart:
1. Send mail or postcards. Good old fashioned snail mail! With everyone staying home as much as possible, your friends and family are sure to appreciate a surprise letter or postcard from you. Don't be afraid to open up! Sometimes it's easier to write things than to say them out loud, anyway. Make sure your loved ones know that you care and you're thinking about them.
2. Phone calls and video calls. During this time of social isolation, it's important to connect with people who are important to us. A simple phone call while you're on a walk, or video chat while hanging out at home will make a huge difference. And don't forget - you can get the whole gang together with a group video call via a service like Zoom or Google Hangouts!
3. Virtual "happy hour". With so many of our usual social traditions gone out the window, it can be helpful to try to keep some normalcy alive. Even though you can't meet up at your favorite spot, you can still get a group of friends or coworkers together virtually to have that time to unwind and swap stories at the end of a work-from-home day.
4. Virtual Movie Night! You don't have to watch Netflix alone or with your dog all the time. Using Netflix Party Google Chrome Extension you can watch your favorite movies and shows with your friends online with synchronized video playback and group chat! Now if only we could share the popcorn virtually, too...
5. Virtual Game Night! The Houseparty App allows you to play simple party games like trivia and Heads Up with up to 8 friends at a time. Can't think of a better way to have some fun with friends and de-stress during this time of social isolation!
6. Do a workout challenge together. It's no secret that having a workout buddy helps keep you motivated. While the gyms are closed, see if you can convince a friend of family member to follow an at-home workout challenge or plan with you! You can keep each other accountable as the days go by, and it's a fun and healthy way to stay connected as well.
7. Start a virtual book club. You know those books you've been meaning to read forever? Now's the time! Get a few friends on board to keep you on track with reading, and you can hold weekly virtual book club meetings via group video call.
8. Do coffee or lunch - from afar. Use an app like Venmo to send your bestie money for coffee or lunch - "lunch on me!" - so they can order from their favorite local restaurant or cafe. Alternatively, send a delivery directly to their home via a delivery service such as BiteSquad or DoorDash.
9. Send short videos via Marco Polo. This is an easy and fun way to stay in touch with the people who matter most every day! It's more personal than a text, but doesn't take as much time as a phone call or video call. You can send a short video whenever you have time, and get back to theirs whenever you get the chance!
10. Set a reminder. It can be easy to get caught up in our own little self-quarantined worlds, and maybe we don't get around to checking in on our friends and family as often as we'd like. Set an alarm or reminder to check in on your friends/family once a day (or once every other day, or once a week, depending on the level of social interaction you prefer).
11. Check in on your coworkers. Many of us have now found ourselves working from home, maybe for the first time. There's something about working from home that makes most of our interactions with coworkers and supervisors "strictly business". Whether it's because we're only communicating via email, or just discussing what needs to be done on our conference calls, we're missing out on the little day-to-day ways we usually interact with our coworkers in the office. No one's stopping by your desk or gathering by the water cooler.
And while it's good to be productive with our time while working, it's also valuable for our mental health to maintain those social relationships. So, make a point to check in on your coworkers. Talk on the phone once in a while, instead of an email. Or get on a video call and talk about something other than work for a bit before getting down to business.
Hopefully one of these tips will bring some more joy into your social distancing life! Stay home, stay safe, and don't forget to call your mom!