Six ideas for keeping in touch

During the coronavirus pandemic, we have all learnt methods of how to communicate and keep in touch with our loved ones, whether that be by Zoom quiz nights, socially-distanced walks or just a simple phone call. With rules surrounding what we can and can’t do always changing, it can be difficult to maintain relationships with our loved ones, especially when it comes to moving away to university or moving back home and away from your university pals.

In this article, I’m going to give you some of my favourite ideas on how to maintain those relationships, whether they be your grandparents, partner, pals or siblings. These tips should give you some creative ideas to keep your relationships strong and improve your mental health through communication and ‘COVID friendly’ socialising!

A green letter, a mug of coffee and a bouquet of pink roses on a white surface.

Write a letter

Though old-fashioned and many young people may have never sent a letter, it’s a great way to keep in touch with older family members, especially those who do not use the internet or technology. Make sure you include your university address, or your home address if you’re at home. They’re also great for younger family members who are too young to use technology independently. If they are too young to read, then a good idea could be to include lots of pictures or drawings with a little description and some questions at the end for their parent/carer to read to them, which will help them create their reply!

Zoom or Facetime activities

At this point I think we’re all familiar with the concepts of Zoom, Facetime, Microsoft teams…whatever you want to use, why not organise to do activities with your friends or family? It could be baking something together, a quiz, crafts, yoga, or anything else. Whatever you’re interested in, why not do it together but virtually! This helps to not only keep you in touch with each other but gives you something to do. This will improve your wellbeing and keep your brain active too!

A person on a video call to another person on a laptop. They are writing on a sheet of paper. The person on the laptop is gesturing with their hands.

Study groups

This is a great idea if you and your coursemates are struggling to find the motivation to work. Whether it be discussing ideas, planning essays together or having a fun old game of Kahoot, it will help you to find your motivation to work and help to build those friendships with coursemates, which has been particularly hard for the corona-freshers! It doesn’t necessarily matter if you don’t get much work done during the group, but it could help you to find your drive to work again by chatting with your coursemates and help you feel less alone.

Bedtime stories

This one is more for the people who have younger siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins, or whoever they may be. Children can be especially hard to keep up with. However, they are also the ones whose lives are changing so quickly. It is easy to feel guilty when you see them after a long time and see how big they’ve grown or how they can now count to 20 when they could barely talk the last time you spoke to them. It can be hard to keep up with, especially when you’re not allowed to go and see them. A good idea is to send your little loved ones bedtime stories. Simply record yourself reading a story that is appropriate for them and send it to their parent or carer to play for them before they go to bed. This way, they know that you still care about them, and it helps you to feel like you’re still in contact with them.

A pair of hands holding a phone.

Family and friends diary

The concept of a family and/or friends diary is quite a simple one. This could be done through a group chat or Facebook page or whatever your group’s preferences are and is a good way for your family to keep up to date with each other. The concept is that each of the members of your group can share your events from the day with one another. This could be sharing from what you cooked for dinner today to running 10k! It could be absolutely anything, but it gives you a sense of community and support. You can also use these platforms to set challenges for each other or themes for the day or week. This can help you all to have fun setting or partaking in these challenges and bring you all closer together, even though you can’t see each other in person at the moment.

Movie night

The concept of watching a movie together is not that creative, but there are now so many platforms where you can watch movies together when you’re not even in the same house! Platforms such as Squad and Teleparty allow you to watch the same movie together, whilst being able to talk to each other, just as if you were in the same room! This is a great idea for the less talkative people who just want to hang out together and allows you to feel like a bit of normality is here, or for people that simply enjoy watching a movie together!

A woman on a bed with a laptop on her lap. She is smiling.

The important thing to remember here is that although keeping in touch with your loved ones is important, it is also important to take some time for yourself and take care of yourself. For some people, this is getting out of bed and having some breakfast before embarking on a day of Netflix, but for others, it’s doing a full at-home workout followed by a pamper day of bath bombs, face masks and nail polish. It all depends on what you want and need. Looking after yourself during this new time is essential. That doesn’t just involve making sure you’ve fed yourself a pot noodle and had a shower in the last week, but making time for your mental health too. This could be reading (if paper books aren’t your thing, then audiobooks are great too) or going on a run or just relaxing in front of the TV with your family or flatmates.

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