If you’re living in isolation, missing family, friends and loved ones, here’s how to stay safely connected amid the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
Social distancing and staying at home has been recommended as a way to impede the spread of COVID-19, the new infectious disease that has taken over the world. However, self-isolation has made a lot of people feel detached, alone and lonely. Staying connected with friends, family and loved ones is more important than ever.
Even if you’re busy taking care of kids, pets and other family members while working from home, make sure to check in on those who might be all alone right now. If you have an elderly relative, friend or family member abroad, or someone living alone, make sure to check in on their needs, offer encouragement, or just talk. You might be making a huge impact on someone’s life right now just by saying hello.
If you’re finding it difficult to stay connected with others during these trying times, here’s a list of ways to stay in touch with those you’re missing — or those who might miss you.
1. Pick Up The Phone
With all the different ways to connect these days, many of us don’t have frequent phone conversations anymore. Simply picking up the phone and making a call right now is the best thing to do. Surprise someone with a phone call and if they don’t answer, leave a message and check in on them another time. Go through your phone book and make a list of who to contact and spend an afternoon simply chatting and catching up.
Tip: Put anyone who lives alone at the top of your call list!
2. Video Call
Better yet, make it a face-to-face experience with a video call through free technology like Skype, Facetime, Zoom, Messenger, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts or another free video app. You might have to offer help (or get help) setting up the app or creating an account for someone, but the effort and time spent will be well worth it, especially if kids are involved. Children missing their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends will get so much more out of a video call than a phone call.
Tip: For toddlers, preschoolers and grade school kids, try setting up a virtual play date with a friend or two so they can get some face to face interaction with someone of their own age.
3. Send A Message
More frequent, spontaneous communication is better suited for messages. Whether it’s text messages through your phone or app, instant messages, emails or even direct messages through social media, sending a quick note doesn’t require much time or effort, and yet it still offers a nice way to connect on a daily basis. Starting a group message or thread can be a great way to connect with a number of people all at once, sharing family news, information or even fun memories from the past.
Tip: If you’re not able to connect with someone through a video call, you might still be able to send them photos or even videos through a messaging app.
4. Write A Letter
Most of us aren’t in the habit of writing letters or sending cards, other than the annual holiday cards or occasional greetings. Now is the perfect time to connect with someone the old-fashioned way through written words. This can especially be a fun way for kids to connect with friends and family, even with just a short note, homemade card or drawing. If you know someone working in health care, law enforcement, public safety, first responders, or any of the fields considered essential right now, send them a thank you or thinking of you note — it will really mean a lot. Pinterest is a good place to find ideas for DIY cards and fun notes to send, especially for kids. And artists, like our very own collaborator, Kate Smith, are giving cards away for free so you can send some love to those you care about most.
Tip: Younger kids who can’t write yet can still participate by dictating the words you write and signing their name or drawing a picture to go with the letter or card.
5. Send A Care Package
If you want to go the extra mile, make someone smile with a care package filled with goodies they can enjoy. This is perfect for anyone celebrating a birthday or another special occasion, but can also be a nice thinking of you gift that will be much appreciated. 1-800 Flowers, Harry & David, Cravebox, Cratejoy and others offer a wide variety of care package options with food, drinks, self-care items, books and everything in between. Just make sure to include a note or card to let the person or family know you’re thinking of them.
Tip: You can also order personalized gifts at Personalization Mall to let your loved ones know you’re thinking of them. Although the delivery dates are temporarily being delayed, you can let them know that their package will be arriving shortly through the Email to a Friend button on the site.
6. Host A Virtual Sunday Dinner or Family Party
If your family is like my family, Sunday dinner is a big deal. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and sometimes even friends and neighbors all gather around a meal to chat, celebrate and connect. You can bring back some of that same energy and atmosphere with a virtual dinner all through a video call app, like one of the ones listed above. This is especially nice for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and graduations. Send out an invitation and get everyone on the same platform to participate however they can. Then gather around the dinner table and let the technology be the conduit for communication.
Tip: With so many High School and College grads missing out on their graduations this May, plan a virtual graduation party to honor your grad. Then follow up with a real party once the social distancing orders have been lifted.
7. Virtual Lunch Hour (Or Happy Hour)
If Sunday family dinner is not your thing, consider setting up a daily virtual lunch hour to chat and catch up with family, friends or coworkers. And if lunch time is too busy or too difficult to coordinate, make it a happy hour after work – drinks optional! Keep the conversation light and cheerful by avoiding lengthy discussions of the ongoing pandemic and politics. Instead, create a separate space for these discussions in a message or email thread, or via Slack or Microsoft Teams thread with work colleagues. Coworkers can also create a video chatroom during morning coffee hour to connect casually just as they would in a real office setting. Some workplaces have even opened it up to families, so coworkers can meet each other’s spouses and kids — virtually, of course.
Tip: Inviting just one coworker or friend for a virtual morning coffee or afternoon tea to reconnect and chat face-to-face can do wonders for mental health.
8. Virtual Family Reunion
You can take things to the next level with a daylong virtual family reunion. This is especially a nice option for large and extended families, or long-distance relatives you don’t keep in touch with on a regular basis. Treat this like any other event and plan out every detail, including the timing and everyone’s availability, as well as the technology you’re using. Make sure ahead of time that everyone is able to connect and that there are no technical difficulties on the day of. Then create an agenda, plan out games and activities and get everyone on-board for the fun. The Family Search Blog points out another advantage of a virtual family reunion: the ability to record the experience and preserve it for future generations!
Tip: This can also work well for your close group of friends, coworkers or people you normally hang out with, like your book club buddies, classmates and more.
9. Create A Family Webpage
Another way to connect with family and loved ones on a regular basis is through a family webpage, whether it’s a password protected website or a private group on Facebook, WhatsApp or another app. WordPress.com and similar blogging platforms allow you to create a free site where you can post updates, share news and invite friends and family members to stay connected on their own time. If this sounds like too much work, simply consider connecting with others through social media updates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more. For some, this might be the easiest way to stay in touch during this time.
Tip: If you’re using social media platforms, make sure the group you’re creating is private so that only the people you invite are able to join in on the conversation and view the posts.
10. Share Your Interests Virtually
If you’re missing time with your circles of friends, teams and groups you can find ways to share interests virtually. Some have started virtual book clubs to continue their literary discussions. Others continue to stay fit with virtual yoga classes and other at-home group fitness conducted through video calls. You can even setup a family movie night with Netflix Party mode, allowing you to sync video playback and chat in real time about the shows you’re watching. Video gamers can play online games together and for kids and teens learning how to play an instrument you can host a virtual recital. Get creative and see how you can continue to enjoy your hobbies and activities with friends and family remotely through technology.
Tip: Meetup.com is great place to find local groups with similar interests — both in person and online — on topics ranging from family, health, fitness, to music, film, writing, pets and so much more.
11. Setup A Virtual Prayer Room
No matter what religion you follow or what you believe in, prayer can be a powerful thing, especially during these trying times. There’s a familiar quote that says “families that pray together, stay together.” Right now, a place to pray together can be extremely helpful for those who feel alone or isolated, who have previously relied on their church, mosque, temple or place of worship and can’t actively attend now. Creating a virtual prayer room allows you to pray with a group, just as you would in real life. The site
24-7prayer.com shares some tips on how to run a virtual prayer room, choosing the right digital space for your group, creating prayer support, encouraging and engaging others in prayer. If a virtual prayer room is not right for your family, take the time to simply say a prayer for those you love. Prayer is a powerful thing and can do wonders for the soul.
Tip: Don’t forget to say a prayer for those at service to us all, including nurses, doctors, hospital staff, police officers, firefighters, first responders,
BONUS: Have Some Fun
Don’t let these crazy times get you down and pull you away from the people that really matter in your life. There are plenty of ways to reach out to those you love. Most importantly, stay safe and find ways to have a bit of fun while you’re at it. Here are just a few ideas to inspire you.
Can we make this a thing? We need more variety during our daily walks/gym class! #neighbourhoodDPA #chalkyourwalk #isolationvacation #StopTheSpread #CoronaVirusChallenge #preemielife @wrdsb pic.twitter.com/iR0bRH9NDT— Ms Cook (@QEkindies) March 20, 2020
This is my young cousin. He calls teachers, neighbors and older people, then schedules an appointment to play a song to bring them happiness while social distancing.
We need more goodness like this right now. #CoronaVirusChallenge #CoronavirusPandemic pic.twitter.com/ylLO73ByFd— Brad Meltzer (@bradmeltzer) March 26, 2020
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