10 Tips for Staying Connected While Social Distancing
Along with handwashing and wearing a mask, keeping a safe social distance is one of the most important ways to slow the spread of contagious viruses like COVID-19. While it’s hard not to get together with friends or take part in family activities, the good news is that social distancing doesn’t mean you have to feel lonely.
Although technology and social media platforms are often blamed for causing isolation, in times like these, they can actually help us nurture the social connections that are so important for our emotional and mental health. In fact, our list of ideas will work well for keeping long-distance relationships healthy even after the current situation is over. So don’t let the coronavirus stand in your way — read on for our top 10 ideas to stay connected while you keep your social distance.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
Connect with a friend or family member and decide on a favorite recipe for dinner. Prop your phone or tablet in the kitchen so you can watch each other as you work. Keep up a running commentary while you prepare, cook and eat your meal together. Don’t forget to clink your glasses to celebrate a job well done!
Two Thumbs Up
For fun things to do with friends at home, nothing tops watching a movie. Choose one that you’d like to see together and settle down on the couch. Stay connected on your device, start the show at the exact same time and share comments as the action unfolds. Halfway through the movie, hit the pause button to sing, “Let’s go out to the lobby…” and head to the kitchen for popcorn and snacks.
Say It with a Smile
It’s always nice to hear a friendly, familiar voice. Leave a voice message for a loved one using Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or iMessage on your device. You could read an inspirational quote, tell a joke or just say, “I love you.” Remember to smile while you speak, because the person who’s listening will hear it in your voice.
The Sound of Music
Use a free music streaming service such as Spotify to set up a collaborative playlist. This will enable your friends or family members to share music by adding songs to the list. Introduce your children and grandchildren to the music you love, and discover what the younger generation is listening to these days. You could even exchange a daily song recommendation and call each other to talk about it later.
Write It Down
Put pen to paper and tell someone how you feel. Writing letters is more or less a lost art today, but it’s making a comeback — your grandchildren will surely treasure personal stories told in your own handwriting. Stationery and stamps can be ordered online from the United States Postal Service. A wide range of stationery and greeting cards can be found at Hallmark.com, sold singly or in packs for themes that include birthdays, friendship, and “Thinking of You.”
Mr. DeMille, I’m Ready for My Close-up
Nowadays close-ups are called selfies, and Instagram provides a short, sweet, and fun way to share selfies (and videos) with your circle of followers. Set up a “Close Friends” list and snap yourself in different places around your home. In fact, why not get all dressed up and strike a glamorous pose? You could also create fun family activities, such as hiding a perfectly ordinary object like an egg timer, a toothbrush or a spatula for a grandchild to find in a series of photos.
Remember the Party Line?
Those were the days — when we could just pick up the phone and listen in on the neighborhood gossip. But there is a modern equivalent, of sorts. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp — these popular social media platforms all have the option of connecting with groups to chat online. Set up your own group to share ideas and support each other during social distancing. Or use the search function to find a group that shares your interests.
It’s the Thought That Counts
Birthdays, graduations, and parties in general look very different from what we used to expect. You can still be part of the celebration by sending a long-distance gift or flowers through an online retailer such as Amazon or 1800Flowers. Or rent a yard sign from companies such as SignGypsies or CardMyYard, and they’ll plant a message in front of your family member’s house. Remember to order well in advance, as delivery times may be affected.
Virtual Book Club
Have you always wanted to be part of a book club? It can still be a fun thing to do at home. Once you and a friend have agreed on a book to discuss, download it on your Kindle and read it at the same time. Choose a few stopping points; say, a quarter-way, half-way and three-quarters of the way through, where you’ll stop to chat with each other. Discuss the story and plot twists, what you think will happen, and quotes you’ve highlighted. When you both finish the book, call in for a final review over a glass of wine.
Don’t Stop Making Plans
Even if you’re not sure when they might come to fruition, don’t stop making plans. Talk about the places you’ll go when this is all over. Email each other notes about movies you’d like to see. Discuss where you’ll next have lunch or go shopping. When the time is right, you can make it all happen.