Staying connected to family and friends

The world has gone through some dramatic changes over the past few months. With the arrival of Covid-19 in Ireland, we’ve been subject to strict safety regulations that have significantly changed our routines.

Though the social distancing measures are being enforced for our own protection, it’s hard not to feel their impact each day. Not being able to see the people we love the most can increase our feelings of isolation and loneliness.

However, while we’re facing this unprecedented time, we have more technology than ever to help us stay connected to family and friends. A Skype call may not ever feel the same as sitting around the table and playing Monopoly with your family, but it can certainly offer a worthy substitute as we adapt to this new way of life. 

The below article offers some suggestions for ways you can remain connected to family and friends, regardless of the distance.

1. Schedule a video call with your loved ones each week: One of the positive things about quarantine? People may find that they have more free time than ever to enjoy “social” activities. Contact those you want to speak to (whether independently or as a group) and ask if you can arrange a virtual “date.”

Having a scheduled event on the calendar will not only give you something to look forward to during the week, it will help add structure to your routine— something that may be lacking in the current climate. Put on the kettle and settle in with a cuppa for the chats! 

2. Have dinner with your family or friends (from afar): Although we’ve had to put a halt on larger dinner parties, it’s still possible to enjoy a meal with those you love through the use of video technology. Why not enjoy a special evening conversing with friends or family as you dine in your respective homes? 

3. Send and receive voice/video messages throughout the week: Encourage friends and family to send you updates in the form of voice notes or videos throughout the week. This is a fantastic way to stay updated on the goings on in the lives of the people you care about in a time when gatherings aren’t permitted.

Don’t forget to let others know what you’ve been up to!  Any good series you’ve been watching or interesting books you’ve been reading? These messages can be made on your own time and sent whenever you feel inspired to do so. A voice note or video is a nice surprise to receive, and is a surefire way to brighten someone’s day and let them know you’re thinking of them. Apps such as Marco Polo and WhatsApp work especially well for this.

4. Find yourself a pen pal: Add some variety to your communications and start corresponding with a pen pal. This can be an existing friend or family member (nieces, nephews and grandkids are all excellent candidates) or it can offer the perfect opportunity to make new friends.

There may be local programs within your community that can assign you to a pen pal, or you can find one online yourself at websites made just for this purpose. As always, be sure to take precautions when it comes to getting to know anyone new and be sure to never disclose delicate personal information to strangers. 

5. Have a game night in: A rousing game night with friends and family may be a while off yet, but in the meantime we can use the tools at our disposal to create a virtual game night in. There are plenty of platforms that have been developed for this purpose, so it’s now simpler than ever to enjoy a bit of friendly competition from the safety of your own home. 

Staying connected to the outside world may look a bit different than usual these days, but it’s now more important than ever to do so. The good news is that it’s entirely possible to keep in touch with your loved ones during this time—all it takes is a bit of effort.

 If you know someone who may be feeling lonely at the moment, why not reach out and check in on them? If you’re struggling with your own feelings of isolation, talk to your doctor about what you can do.