With social distancing rules and etiquette in full effect, it is more difficult than ever to feel connected to the people we love. The lack of in-person contact can cause stress and loneliness, as many of us have already experienced. While quick “miss you” texts are easy, it does not have the same impact or feeling as sitting on your friend’s couch and chatting over coffee. We still are not to the point of being able to visit others in their home, but we can do things to connect on a deeper level, both with and without the aid of technology.
Connecting through Technology
Personal use gadgets like cellphones and their capabilities have exploded over the last decade. Now is the perfect time to learn how to use these devices more effectively. The bonus of learning how to better use technology is also learning how to protect yourself and your information online as well.
Google Hangouts or Facetime
Apps for your smartphone, like Google Hangouts or Facetime, give you the ability to see the people you are on the phone with. While you may not be able to have an in-person dinner or coffee with your family and friends, you can still have a “video chat” meal. You can also use these kinds of apps to read bedtime stories to your grandkids or chat with a relative who lives outside of the country.
Facebook or other social media
If you’re not on social media yet, this may be an excellent time to join. Facebook is easily the most used social media, with over 2.45 BILLION active users. Chances are your children, grandchildren, cousins, and friends from high school are all on Facebook. Most social media sites like Facebook have increased your ability to change privacy settings, so you have much less to worry than you did even a couple of years ago. However, please take precautions to protect yourself when online. Check out this article on the U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency site about protecting yourself online.
Attend a Virtual Free Class
While it is not quite the same as sitting in a classroom, there are virtual classes you can take on anything you are interested in for free. TEDTalks have engaging, thought-provoking discussions by the world’s top thinkers that range in topics from history to stress management. AARP has put together a list of free learning resources available to watch now.
“Visit” Somewhere new
While we certainly are not able to travel, we can still virtually “visit” places across the globe. The Louvre and the British Museum both have virtual tours available. The San Diego Zoo has live cameras of most all of their animals. There’s even a virtual tour of the Great Wall of China!
Traditional Ways to Connect
At this point, you may feel like you have had your fill of technology. If you are looking for something a little more low-key, we have some suggestions.
Send a letter
Letter writing feels like a lost art in the age of technology. Bring it back! The receiver will feel extra special opening their mailbox to a “just because” postcard. You may even get a letter back yourself.
Go for a walk
This is the perfect time to take a walk (while wearing a mask of course). Even just a short walk around the block opens the possibility of having a socially distant conversation with neighbors. Taking a walk is also just good exercise!
Do not be afraid to pick up the phone.
The phone is still an easy way to connect with others. Your family and friends are just a phone call away to chat. Remember, they may still be working, even if they are home. If you are missing your church family, set up a bible study conference call. Give your favorite neighbor a call and talk while you both sit outside, able to see each other while still social distancing.