How to Stay Connected with People if You’re Stuck at Home

published Mar 17, 2020
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woman having video call on cell phone
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The concept of social distancing is one that I, an extrovert, initially was dubious I’d ever be able to grasp. It involves avoiding large gatherings and public transportation (if possible), keeping at least six-foot distance from other people, and generally just staying home as much as possible. Doing so helps to ensure that you have a lower chance of getting sick and that you’re less likely to get others sick. Together, this means we can “flatten the curve” so that more resources are available to the sick when they need it. Seeing how much of a difference it can make, though, caused me to immediately hunker down in my studio apartment for as long as possible to do my part.

If you’re taking similar measures to avoid non-essential public activity, it might seem like you’ll lose touch with friends and loved ones pretty quickly. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If anything, all of the extra time at home might make you more able to connect with people (hello, FaceTime). Here are some simple ways to feel close to anyone you might not see in person for awhile.

Play board games

There are actually so many ways to play board games with people you’re miles away from. I know from experience: one time, I “played” Yahtzee with my sister over FaceTime (I rolled for her and she told me what to keep), and she got three Yahtzees and absolutely clobbered me. I’m still bitter—but definitely recommend trying this with any game you like. Some games, like Ticket to Ride and Scrabble, have app versions that let you play friends and family by logging in (both app versions are better than the real game, imo). Short of that, you can channel these innovative friends and play a virtual game of Codenames.

Take the same online workout class

If you use Peloton, Obé, Mirror, or any of the countless other home workout options, then sync up and take the same class at the same time (you can even FaceTime each other while you do it!). Call or text each other before or after to motivate each other and do a debrief once it’s over. You can also look up workouts on YouTube or take a yoga class on Twitch together!

Challenge eachother to “bake-offs”

Baking is therapeutic for me, and if what I make brings joy to other people? Bring it on. Challenge a friend who also wants to bake to make a type of dessert (cookies, cake, pie, whatever strikes your fancy), and then send each other photos of the outcome. If you both generally have the same recipes, then do a swap once you’re done! Bonus: if you both live with other people who are willing to participate as taste testers, have them give grades and see who gets the highest score.

Plan group FaceTime hangouts

This is basically what it sounds like—make a plan for a group of you (whether it’s friends, siblings, cousins, coworkers who really like each other, whatever) to all FaceTime each other at the same time, and just… hang out. This is also doable with Skype, Google Hangouts, or whatever video chatting platform you prefer. It’s a surprisingly pleasant way to all catch up and get off of the dreaded group chat for once.

Make some pen pals

Now seems like a great time to catch up on correspondence, huh? Bust out some old stationery (I have so many cards and nice paper goods that can be put to use) and write to someone! This is especially nice to do with someone you’ve lost touch with—instead of trying to cram life updates into texts, write what’s been going on with you. You’ll be amazed at how much you have to share with each other. If you’d rather not put an extra burden on postal service workers, feel free to send a long, thoughtful email instead.

Binge the same TV show

Pick a show you’ve never seen, watch it at the same time, and then debrief on a regular basis! You can “watch” together by putting on the same episode simultaneously, or you can say “Let’s plan to discuss the first five episodes of ‘Mad Men'” by Friday. Take notes, drink Martinis, and debate your favorite ad slogans (the correct answer is the Jaguar one).

And place phone calls

It’s easy to forget how great a phone call can feel. I know millennials “hate” phone calls and, in general, texting is usually more popular, but I love a good, old-fashioned call. I do it while I’m disinfecting, organizing, working on a puzzle (both jigsaw and crossword), you name it. I’ve talked to so many more recently than I might’ve otherwise, and love the warm-fuzzies I feel after 30 minutes of communicating, even if they’re far away. It’s the perfect way to check in periodically on everyone you know to see how they’re doing—and hopefully share a laugh over something trivial amidst all of the chaos.