Creative Ways to Stay Connected to Others as We Head Into a Pandemic Winter

Finding small ways to reach out to the people we don’t see everyday is more crucial than ever.

G-Stock Studio/ Shutterstock
G-Stock Studio/ Shutterstock

With winter approaching and recommendations from public health officials to continue staying inside and social distancing, it’s critical that we make the effort to stay connected. After all, connection can help ward off feelings of loneliness, keep our bonds strong, and keep the pandemic winter blues at bay. When we can’t gather together in person, finding creative ways to show we care is more important than ever.

We asked our Thrive community to share one small way they’re reaching out to others as we head into the winter. Which of these will you try?

Send out handwritten cards 

“I’m a writer, so to stay connected with others, I put my talents to use. I send notes to friends I haven’t been in touch with, get well cards to friends who are ill, and emails to my staff. I also send handwritten cards to my family members and friends. This year, I created a poem of gratitude for my sorority sisters and other friends.”

—Gerry J. Tucker, educator and writer, Austin, TX

Consider dog walks with friends

“Since the pandemic started, dog walks have been regular and ritualized with a variety of friends, and the tradition will continue over the winter. This ritual not only allows our dogs the chance to get outside and exercise, but it also allows me to catch up and check in with friends in a safe and in-person way. I’ll definitely  be utilizing all the layers in the cold up in Boston!”

—Sarah Rudman, operations manager, Boston, MA

Host a virtual friendship circle

“I am looking forward to hosting virtual winter friendship circles for groups of my professional friends and personal friends. It is my hope that these gatherings will give us a space to connect and share. Since they are virtual, they have potential to reach and unite us across the country and even internationally, making these circles special because they are something that would only be possible to execute via a virtual platform. One possible theme for one circle might be ‘show and tell,’ allowing everyone who attends to teach a certain craft for a few minutes, share an expertise of theirs, or swap recipes with the group. The idea is to keep these circles collaborative and energized while strengthening our connections.”

—Randi Levin, transitional life strategist, NY/NJ

Send uplifting texts to friends

“We all need encouragement from one another this season. A small way I have been reaching out to others is by sending uplifting text messages to my friends and family. My hope is that an inspiring word will make them smile and remind them they are not alone. My last message was simple but pointed. It read, ‘Keep shining, the world needs our light.’ These messages are just as much about supporting them as they are about my own self-care.”

—Monique Johnson, social enterprise leader, Richmond, VA

Extend a hand to a stranger

“As we age, our families spread out and unfortunately some pass. My son relocated to Washington for his job at Boeing. My mom — the family linchpin — passed away a few years ago, and we all rally around dad. On this Thanksgiving day, my dad and I stopped at the grocery store on our way to my brother’s home. My dad pulled over to talk to the homeless men on the road, and we started a conversation that lasted a good five minutes. It was lively, polite and fruitful. Reaching out to strangers through small, thoughtful interactions are more important than ever as we head into winter.”

—Rocky Taormina, Upland, CA

Record gratitude videos for your friends

“Heading into the holiday season during a pandemic, I sought a personal approach to express gratitude to about fifty people who were particularly instrumental in helping me get through this year. I decided to record videos for a couple minutes, speaking directly to the camera with a heartfelt thank you and a little personalization that tailored the video to that special recipient. Gratitude itself is a powerful emotion, and the surprise I’ve seen from the recipients has brought me so much joy.”

—Donna Peters, career coach and podcast host, Atlanta, GA

Meet halfway for an outdoor reunion

“This Thanksgiving, my family and I canceled our usual travel plans and instead pioneered a new tradition. My son and his girlfriend packed up green bean casserole and mashed potatoes, we packed up turkey, dressing, and sweet potatoes — and we met halfway in a parking lot to exchange homemade vittles. We got and gave the personal touch. We celebrated a loving holiday in an entirely new way.”

—Molly Miller, freelance writer, Albany, OR

How are you reaching out and checking in on others this winter? Share your ideas with us in the comments!

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