The COVID pandemic has taken a toll on the international community in many ways, but one of the hardest is the isolation. At first we thought it would only last a few months, and then we thought it would be over before the holidays, and suddenly we found ourselves having to have Thanksgiving dinner with our parents on Zoom, and watch our nieces and nephews opening gifts through a screen. As this cold winter continues it is easy to feel like we are alone because we are not forced to be around others; we need to be extra intentional about reaching out and nurturing those connections and relationships we are so lucky to have. Here are some great and lighthearted ways to stay connected while distanced! 

  1. Outside Gatherings Winter makes this more difficult, but there are many cafes and restaurants who have adapted to be COVID friendly and not only offer takeout but outside seating with heaters, fires, and sometimes even blankets – bonfires are also a great way to have an afternoon with hot drinks and friends, even if it’s cold outside. 
  1. Phone/Video Calls By now we are probably already well acquainted with Zoom calls, but don’t forget how many things we can do with just video calls! More than just catching up or having meetings, video calls enable us to can play board games, cook, sing/play instruments – together! And of course, just seeing a familiar face smiling is so much better than a text. 
  1. Send gifts Today’s online ordering services make it possible to send pretty much anything to anyone, anywhere. From birthday gifts to get well flowers, we’re still able to be a part of all the special occasions – and for all of our loved ones who have gift giving as a language, a surprise gift on a random day may be exactly what they need to feel close to you.
  1. Social Media Although social media can be a negative influence, it also has a great amount of power – being able to follow friends on social media gives you a glimpse of their everyday lives and routines and allows you to be a part of them.
  1. Marco Polo/Video Sending For those with time differences or just busy schedules, video sending apps such as Snapchat or Marco Polo can be a life saver! These apps are easy to use and allow you to record long stories to your loved ones that save for them to open whenever they are available, and they can do the same back! One family lived with an eight hour time difference between them and her daughter 8 months pregnant – with Marco Polo, grandma was able to be a part of all the baby’s firsts, even the first smiles. E
  1. Make a Shared Playlist With streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify, you can make collaborative playlists (or just playlists for one another) and be able to listen to them on your own device while they live add songs that make them think of you. It’s a sweet way to stay connected and show someone how you’re feeling. 
  1. Netflix Party Last but not least, beyond all of the events and parties I think so many of us just miss family movie nights, or curling up with your friends together at the end of the day to watch your favorite show. Using Discord, Netflix Party, or more, you’re able to sync your screens so you can yell, gasp, and laugh at the same time together like always. 

These long periods of isolation have been challenging in so many ways, but we are not alone. Send your sister a random gift. Make a playlist for your little brother. FaceTime your mom and ask her to show you how to roll the dough she uses for her apple pie that you miss so much. If you feel lonely, reach out – we’re all still in this together. #stayhome and #staywell, Harmony At Home family!