Try These Smart Tips to Stay Connected to the People You Don’t See Every Day

Social distancing can make us feel isolated and lonely — so more than ever, it’s important to reach out to colleagues and loved ones.

Cavan Images/ Getty Images
Cavan Images/ Getty Images

The spread of coronavirus is changing the way we work and live, and in this new normal, tapping into our fundamental need for connection is more important than ever. Whether you’re working remotely or separated from family or loved ones, everyone is still adjusting — and maintaining a sense of connection can feel especially challenging. 

We asked our Thrive community to share the little ways they’re staying connected to those they no longer see on a day-to-day basis. Which of these will you try?

Hold a team yoga class online

“One of my colleagues is a yoga instructor, so we have invited all of our co-workers to a virtual yoga session together. It’s a great way to see each other, include our families and roommates in the activity, and get in a good stretch.”

—Tami Nealy, influencer marketing, Phoenix, AZ

Send out a lighthearted video

“My team is working from home, so we’ve set up remote access with regular daily email communications and check-ins. Ensuring that all communication isn’t work-related is important as well. We’ve been sending inspirational, positive, and humorous images and videos around. It helps keep the team engaged and helps with any feelings of anxiety and isolation.”

—Carrie McEachran, executive director, Sarnia, ON

Share nostalgic photos in your family group chat

“This is an opportunity to get creative so that we feel close and connected during this time of separation. We’re sharing funny memes in an extended family group thread, and my mom is texting throwback pictures of our childhood from the eighties. She recently sent a picture of my Granny and me, taken by film camera at my tenth birthday. It brought great comfort to see me hugging my Granny, realizing that she lived through the Great Depression. Even though she is no longer with us, knowing that she got through that hard time felt like a long-distance embrace.”

—Katie M. Reid, author and speaker, Mt. Pleasant, MI

Start a virtual happy hour with friends

“We started a virtual happy hour. It allows our group of friends a time at the end of the day to look forward to. We leverage Microsoft Teams or Zoom, so everyone can see each other.”

—Amanda DeVlugt, learning professional, Memphis, TN

Cook the same recipe over FaceTime

“As someone in a long distance relationship, I’ve been forced to get creative when it comes to staying connected with my significant other. One of my favorite things we have done virtually is make the same recipe together over FaceTime. This is something fun and easy that you can do with friends and loved ones when you’re socially distancing. It’s also a great opportunity to try out a new recipe!”

—Brynne Terry, occupational therapist, San Francisco, CA

Host an online book club

“My book group is scheduled to meet in person for some food, wine, and fun while discussing our book. We decided to hold our meeting online by using a video conferencing tool instead. I am excited to see my friends even though it will only be online, and I’m excited to discuss our book. The best part about having to meet virtually is that our dear friend who lives in Singapore can join us!”

—Jane Smith, corporate attorney, Atlanta, GA

Set up virtual playdates

“Staying connected is vital for our mental health and for keeping our kids connected. We are using FaceTime more often, and my younger kids are using an app called Caribu that lets them color and play games with their friends on the screen — like digital playdates. Social media is such a wonderful thing right now.  It feels good to talk about technology in such a positive light.”

—Amber Faust, blogger, Hilton Head Island, SC

Play online games with family

“I live in Switzerland and my daughter is a college student in the US. We’ve been playing Boggle with friends on an app. It’s a great way of staying connected, checking in, and spending some time together.”

—Brenda S., executive coach, Lutry, Switzerland

Move your meetings to video

“Our tech council is typically event-based, and we are all missing time to collaborate and feed off of each other’s energy! We’ve been using Zoom to hold virtual C-level meetings to educate our members and check in with everyone. We’ve moved all of our internal board meetings to video calls as well, and are planning on holding a virtual barbecue!”

—Jill St. Thomas, non-profit executive director, Tampa, FL

Call a loved one every day

“I am doing something radical: actually picking up the phone and calling friends and family. Hearing their voices and being able to laugh or commiserate is so comforting.  I now realize how much I was relying on emails and texting, and after this time is over, I plan on continuing to make telephone calls to stay connected in a more human way.”

—Jennefer Witter, CEO and author, New York, NY

Start a virtual “take your pet to work” day

“I work in higher education, where a sense of connection is vital to who we are — with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents.  Here on the work-at-home front with two college students, a high school junior and a journalist, there have been mentions of virtual ‘take your pet to work’ days!”

—Gail Towns, marketing director, Jackson, NJ

Watch the same shows as your co-workers

“Our workforce has gone remote, which has been an adjustment for many of our 500+ employees, who work out of five different offices across the country. We have created a dedicated chat stream called ‘What Ya Watching?’ for employees to connect and discuss what  shows and movies they are currently watching, and exchange laughs and viewpoints in real-time. In the past two weeks, as the pandemic crisis has worsened, it has become a gathering place for all employees to get some levity, talk to other coworkers who may be experiencing ‘news overload,’ and get a brief escape with a fun, light-hearted shared experience.”

—Denise Spillane, brand and communications leader, Philadelphia, PA

Send your friends a “checking in” text

“Every morning, my close circle of girlfriends sends a group text to check in, and we all reply with a thumbs up, or a short report on what is happening in our homes. It’s a great way to check on each other.”

—Candice Komar, divorce attorney, Pittsburgh, PA

Have an online coffee date

“As we all navigate social distancing, I’ve begun to connect with my tribe through an online latte.  It is a great way to share positive news while supporting each other, and it’s super easy to coordinate. Face-to-face contact is so important when we feel isolated, and grabbing a coffee in our home is a great solution.”

—Trish Tonaj, coach, author, and speaker, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Send handwritten letters

“To stay connected, in addition to video-enabled dinner dates and happy hours, I make it a point to write thoughtful, creative, and  personalized notes to people I care about. This helps me practice including a more conversational tone in my writing while also spreading some cheerful motivation. Now more than ever, I carefully choose my words to elevate and celebrate the people in my life.”

—Ana-Maria Visoiu, international program manager, New York, NY

Maintain a daily email chain

“My sister and I have started writing daily emails to each other, where we share what’s on our mind during this time. We also hold each other accountable for exercise, not falling in the black hole of news obsession, and staying positive. It’s been amazing!”

—Nicki Anderson, director of women’s leadership at Benedictine University, Lisle, IL

Share your “highlights and lowlights”

“Every other night, a group of six of us gets together on Zoom for a quick check-in after the kids are asleep. It’s a time for us to connect and share our highlights and lowlights of the day. Sometimes our husbands pop in to say hello as well! The structure of always sharing highlights and lowlights is helping us all remember to take note of the small wins so we have something to share.”

—Lisa Abramson, executive coach, Menlo Park, CA

Do you have a go-to tip for staying connected to loved ones right now? Share it with us in the comments.

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