Feeling connected to others is vital for our well-being. According to Mental Health America, studies have shown that people who maintain strong social relationships are happier, healthier, and longer-lived than less-connected folks. Many of us want and need to feel close to the people in our lives.
Even with all that’s going on in the world right now, there are still plenty of creative ways to stay connected with the people you care about most -- whether they live near or far. While getting together for social gatherings may feel more complicated these days, there are more ways than ever to stay in contact with others. Here are some of our favorite suggestions.
Seek out safe touch.
As massage therapists, we know that touch is hugely beneficial and necessary. Touch is nurturing, healing, and has all kinds of proven health-boosting benefits. We also know that it helps us bond with other people, especially ones we love.
If you share a home with other people, hopefully you’ve been able to enjoy some extra quality time with them lately. When you live with your spouse or partner, you get the extra perks of being able to show affection for each other. That extra contact won’t just give both of you the warm fuzzies; it can also strengthen your special connection.
While we’re on the subject of touch: did you know that we offer a Thai massage workshop that you can take from home? It’s a short online course that will teach you and a partner how to do a basic massage routine on each other. Giving and receiving bodywork can be a fun and relaxing way to stay connected.
And, of course, if you’re in need of a massage, we at Symmetry are also open for business. Feel free to give us a call or visit our website to book an appointment -- we are taking precautions to keep you and our staff safe during this time.
Host creative virtual gatherings.
Nothing beats meeting up with the people you love in person. But it’s just as possible to stay connected via virtual meetups. Hundreds of millions of people now use Zoom to say hello to loved ones around the country and world -- and all from the comfort of their own homes!
You could set up a standing weekly video chat with someone you normally hang out with regularly. Or, if you want to mix up the routine, you could have a virtual lunch date where you both order out from the same restaurant and share a meal together on camera -- I once tried this with a friend and it was surprisingly fun.
For a virtual date, try asking these connection-deepening questions from Psychology Today -- they’ll give you plenty to talk about and help the two of you learn more about one another.
If you’re looking to get a group of people together, you could host a virtual game night with online or mobile-based games that everyone can play at once. Here are a few game ideas to get you started:
- Play a classic game like Pictionary or Charades that doesn’t rely on everyone being in the same room. Just make sure everyone’s got their cameras turned on and their sound turned up!
- You can do a simple lip reading game where you take turns muting your microphones and guessing what each other is saying.
- Try Fibbage, Drawful, or any of the other fun online games at Jackbox.TV. These games do require a subscription account, but only one person needs an account to be able to host games. Others can join from their phones, and everyone can play together in real time over Zoom.
- Challenge your brains with a few rounds of trivia! Crowdpurr lets you create trivia games using sets of pre-written questions (or you can write your own), and it’s free to set up an account.
- Organize a virtual scavenger hunt with your group. No need to do any preparation or hide any items for this hunt -- everyone who’s playing will search for common household items and see who finds the most.
- You can also play word games like 20 Questions or Ghost -- the possibilities are endless!
But even if your group isn’t much for games, there are tons of other fun and unconventional ways to connect. How about going on a virtual tour of a museum or park together? Google Arts & Culture has options from around the world -- you can tour museums such as The Met or the Palace of Versailles, or see bucket-list-worthy destinations such as Macchu Picchu.
Or, if you love puzzles, Puzzle Break organizes virtual escape rooms. You can purchase tickets on their site for groups of six or fewer people, or set up a custom event for a larger group. Your choice!
Send emails or texts to friends and family.
Emails and texts can be simple, easy ways to connect with people we love. You can keep it short, with quick notes to let your loved ones know you’re thinking of them, or exchange longer letters back and forth so you stay caught up on each others’ lives.
A short message to let someone know you’re thinking of them can make their day. But some people like to start longer message chains and share photos, books they’ve read, movies they’ve watched, recipes they’ve tried, or music they’ve listened to recently. Take advantage of any shared interests that you have and compare notes about fun new things you’ve discovered.
Virtually watch live events, movies, or TV together.
If you know of an event coming up that will be livestreamed, consider grabbing tickets for yourself and a couple of friends -- you can watch together while you’re all on video chat and recreate the feeling of being there with each other. Some of these events are low-cost or even free. Or, have yourselves a watch party for a TV show or movie that you’ve all been wanting to see.
My mom and I used to go to see the Colorado Ballet perform The Nutcracker around Christmastime every year. This past year, going in person was not an option, so we watched a livestream performance by the St. Louis Ballet. My partner and stepdad came, too, and we all sipped wine and chatted between scenes. Despite a few minor technological hiccups, it was a wonderful afternoon and we all enjoyed ourselves a lot.
Work out together via an app.
There are some great fitness apps these days that let you do virtual workouts with friends and family. If you’ve got a treadmill, stationary bike, or bike trainer at home, the Zwift app will let you run or bike alongside people you know using their “Ride With” feature. You can create and host your own meetup and invite whoever you’d like to join you.
Peloton’s app offers similar options, and you don’t need a Peloton bike in order to sign up for their digital membership or access their classes. Other social fitness apps such as FitBit, Nike Run Club, and Strava could be worth trying, too.
Staying in touch with our loved ones has some added challenges right now -- no doubt about it. But with the right mindset, you can find all kinds of fun new ways to spend time with friends and family and maintain the relationships that matter to you most.
Please take care of yourselves and continue to stay safe -- and, as always, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re always here for you.