Staying connected was always easy – a meet up at a cafe or a pub or a mall was never out of bounds. Yes, the new normal is staying at home – so the question is how to stay connected while staying at home.
Amongst the many words bandied about this year, ‘pandemic,’ ‘unprecedented,’ ‘quarantine,’ ‘isolation,’ and ‘social distancing’ are some of the ones we’ve heard most. The last three have come about because of the Covid-19 pandemic and have resulted in the popular phrase ‘unprecedented times.’ A time when hugs, handshakes, and high fives are no longer the easygoing acts of affection they used to be. It’s even extended to the point where we sometimes can’t share the same space, and if we do, we need to maintain a distance of two meters.
Covid-19 doesn’t mean social interaction needs to come to a grinding halt and we cannot stay connected. If anything, it means we need to find more (and different) ways to interact in a time that is forcing us to stay physically apart. Now is the time to lean on activities and tools we may not have used much before and be creative in thinking of and finding new ones. Here are a few ideas for staying connected.
Work meetings may have us all Zoomed out, but don’t let that deter you from having the closest thing you can to a face-to-face chat with family and friends. And it can be so much more than just a catch-up. Organize a coffee date. Have a piece of cheese and wine pairing. Play a round of twenty questions. You might find yourself learning something new about people you’ve known for years. These calls don’t need to be limited to two people. Video calling apps (of which there are many to choose from) allow more than two users: so have family reunions, continue your book club, or host a quiz night for staying connected while staying at home.
Play Games to Stay in Touch
Staying home has made many of us unearth old card decks and board games while rediscovering the hilarity that follows a game of charades. Living alone doesn’t mean you need to lose yourself in endless rounds of solitaire or Candy Crush. Hop online and play with friends and family. You can set up your own games’ night using a video calling app or check out apps like House Party, Psych!, Boggle with Friends, and Words with Friends 2. Who knows? You may even make new friends along the way ! – a nice way for staying connected.
Share Memories While Staying at Home
Online platforms such as Facebook and Google throwback to previous posts and photos, reminding you where you were and what you were doing a year ago. It may make you miss merrier and more comfortable times, but find the silver lining by looking at it as a way of dreaming of a better future. It may be challenging to make plans right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have an optimistic outlook.
Don’t stick to online platforms either. Haul out photo albums (if you’re old enough or old-school enough to have them), then phone a loved one to reminisce over good times and recollect fond memories. You can also upload old photos and memories, tagging friends and family to let them know you’re thinking of them. A pleasant way for staying connected.
Learn Something New for Staying Connected
Our lives have changed so much in the last year, and it’s forced us to adapt our lifestyles and adopt new habits. It also means many of us to have more time on our hands. Take the opportunity to learn something new. Whether it’s learning to knit, baking bread, or speaking a new language, now is the time to tick it off your bucket list while staying at home.
Use your newfound skill to connect with others and stay connected. Knit scarves for your friends or baby booties you can give to an expecting friend. If you know someone who speaks the language you’re learning, call them up for a chat, and practice your vocabulary simultaneously. It might even be something you can add to your résumé.
Write, Watch, Record while Staying at Home
Keep track of your new skill by expanding your creativity even further. Keep a diary or start a blog, tracking your progress. You can even keep a pandemic diary for posterity’s sake. And when was the last time you wrote a letter with paper and pen? Write one every day to a friend or family member while staying at home. Hand deliver it when you see them again.
Apply an existing skill and take it to the next level. Start a blog, vlog, social media account, or even a podcast focusing on something you’re passionate about. Are you an avid photographer? Share your work for staying connected. Binge-watching your favorite TV show? Start a re-watch podcast and dissect the episodes.
Support Arts and Culture for Staying Connected
What are some of your regular lockdown or socially-distanced activities? There’s a good chance you spend a significant portion of your time binge-watching the latest hot series, exercising to your favorite music, or curling up with a good book. Due to the very nature of how this kind of work is created and delivered, arts and culture have taken a hard hit by the pandemic.
But the show must go on, and artists have found a way to bring their work to people despite the circumstances. By supporting arts and culture, you not only help people who rely on these industries for their livelihoods, but art is also known to have many individual and social benefits. In contrast, culture keeps us connected to our families and communities. We may not be able to attend the theatre, visit galleries, or go to movies the way we used to, if at all, but there are still many ways to support arts and culture. Watch a theatre performance online while staying at home. Support your favorite author and local bookstore in a virtual book launch. Visit virtual galleries and exhibitions or attend a live concert online – a great way to share thoughts and staying connected.
Exercise while Staying at Home
Exercise can increase energy levels, reduce the risk of chronic disease, improve memory, and aid sleep. And it makes you feel good! You may find it difficult to drag yourself to the exercise mat every day or put on those running shoes, but nothing beats the feeling of reaching the finish line. There are many apps and video channels available, offering various exercises. If you don’t fancy a gym-style workout, make it more fun by following dance videos, finding your balance with yoga, or metaphorically pummeling the pandemic with a kickboxing-inspired workout. This could be the best thing to boost your moral while staying at home.
Organize an exercise group to keep you motivated and exercise together online. If you attended classes pre-pandemic, stay in touch with the class and instructors to determine whether they’ve taken their activities online. Not only will you be able to continue your practice and stay connected, but you can support another industry heavily impacted by the pandemic while staying at home.
If you can exercise outside, take advantage of it, as being in nature or surrounded by green spaces has positive impacts on mental health. You can also connect with others during your daily routine. Miss your jogging buddy? Continue exercising together but stay a safe distance apart or run on opposite sides of the street – a healthy way to stay connected. Try out different routes simultaneously and compare notes about which ones are longer or more challenging.
Make Your Home Work For You
You’ve probably never spent so much time staying at home before, so you may be wearing out your sofa cushions or growing tired of sitting in the same place all day. Switch it up. Try a different spot on the couch or take the next step and move around the furniture for a new look. It’s also the perfect time to spring clean. You never know what you may find when you’re shuffling and shifting things around. Call family and friends for tips. Take a photo before you start and, upon completion, share your before and after photos.
Gardening is another great way of improving your home while getting a bit of sunshine and exercise too. Bring nature indoors by livening up your home and elevating your mood with house plants, fresh flowers, and herbs for your kitchen. This is especially helpful if you don’t have a garden.
If you’re working from home, create an office space for yourself. Whether it’s a separate room, workstation, or cozy corner, dress it up or down to make you feel ready and able to face that cluttered inbox. Try to keep your working space free from distraction and separate from leisure activities. Don’t set up next to the TV or within reaching distance of your snack horde. If you live in a small space and have no choice, find other ways of blocking distractions. Lock away your cellphone, put up a folding screen, or draw up a schedule. Stay in touch with colleagues, but make sure it’s about more than just talking shop. Ask how they’re doing, reach out to those in need, find out how they’re staying connected, or liven up a full and distanced day by pausing for a virtual coffee break together or choosing fun themes for your video call backgrounds.
Be Kind and Connect with Helping Organizations
We shouldn’t wait for a pandemic to let our good natures shine. But it is often in times of strife that the good, the bad, and the stupid breakthrough. Lean into your good side and practice small acts of kindness, not only as a way for staying connected but also as a means to reach out to those who are old, living alone, or may not have the support or means you or others do.
Support organizations or struggling businesses with a donation. Driving through town and noticed your favorite bookshop has closed down? Please don’t take it for granted that the business has folded. Search their site or social media accounts – for all you know, they’ve just taken their business online, and you can still support them. If you can’t do so financially, help them out by spreading the word.
Create New Social Spaces for Staying Connected
During the lockdown, while staying at home, many people around the world found creative ways for staying connected and interact with others. Balconies, terraces, rooftops, and gardens became safe spaces to talk with neighbors, exercise, hold impromptu musical concerts, and cheer on front-line workers. No matter the problems the pandemic poses, people will always find ways to create new social spaces, activities, and tools so we can keep on staying upbeat, staying focused, and staying connected.