It’s fair to say that we’re living in strange times. And as we all attempt to adjust to our new normal, some things are tougher than others to get used to. One aspect of life that many of us miss the most is the ability to spend time with friends and family members that we’re separated from during quarantine. Temporarily gone are the days of after-work happy hours with friends, visiting your grandma at her retirement home, playing a weekly basketball game with your buddies at the gym, and sitting with friends at the park as your kids have a playdate.
And as much as we have faith that so many of these normal goings-on that we took for granted will soon return, in the meantime, we long for what was. But since much of the separation we feel is currently unavoidable, what can we do to feel more connected to those we miss during these times of disconnection? What should we do to address our longing for that familiar sense of belonging? Consider these three useful ways to bypass the barriers and bridge the conspicuous relational gaps.
Group Video Calls
Perhaps one of the most popular ways to connect with those we’re feeling disconnected from during this season is through group video calls. The popularity of services like Skype have skyrocketed, as people look to see the faces of those they’re missing out on seeing in person. Even the greatest generation has joined in on the fun, with grandmas and grandpas learning technology they never thought they’d use.
Group video calls have allowed families, friends, teams of co-workers, school classes, and other groups to interact with more rich communication, as they’re not only able to hear each other’s voices to catch up, share stories, and collaborate, but they’re also able to see each other’s faces and reactions to feel a semblance of togetherness. Try scheduling a video call with your extended family members to check on them, or reach out to your girls group to plan a video call update. Seeing the people we miss, even if only virtually, could be just the pick-me-up we’ve been needing!
Did you know there’s an extension that will allow you to have a virtual Netflix party, at which you’re able to watch a TV show or movie “together” even while apart? It’s a great new feature recently released by Netflix that synchronizes the video you and your long-distance friends are watching and adds a chat function. This additional offering is just one of many opportunities of its kind. Partaking in shared activities, even when not in the same physical location with those participating along with us, can help us feel closer to the people we miss spending time with during this extended separation.
Aside from shared streaming experiences, other activities you could do “together” while apart include playing online games together (such as Words with Friends), doing the same puzzle, trying the same recipes, reading the same book (virtual book club, anyone?), or taking up the same new hobby, like gardening, all while communicating frequently to share updates. Shared activities bring a feeling of closeness that helps address present areas of lack.
Some have said that letter-writing is a lost art form. A hand-written letter or card from someone we care about can mean the world to us, and yet many of us don’t send them often at all. Writing letters takes time. But in these moments when distance from others is felt deeply, time, for some, is more readily available, and many are searching for unique means of closeness, our perspectives of priorities may shift. Writing can be cathartic, can help us share our feelings and experiences, and, when shared with others, can support maintaining intimacy. Grab a notepad or some stationary and write away! For the price of a stamp, you could gain priceless connection.
In tough and uncertain times, we look to lean on the people we know and those who know us. And it’s often when connection is most difficult that it becomes more important than ever. Although it may be challenging, finding less conventional means of maintaining connection, like the ones mentioned above, could be the key to making it through times of prolonged physical distance!