Communication is a multifaceted process, but the pandemic has removed the critical connection of physical touch from our process. To keep our connections strong, we need to do more than just video. There’s a falseness inherent to seeing ourselves on screen. If you’re tired of doing video, or want a deeper connection, consider the ideas below.
Share a Book or an Article
If you have a favorite magazine or just finished a great book, share it with a loved one and include a note asking for their views and opinions. This private literary club can be shared via text.
For example, if you love the voice of a particular author, mail a copy of their work to a loved one who has a perspective that you find refreshing. Ask them to text you when they’ve finished the article, or study the book a chapter at a time.
Don’t let this group get too big. Part of the falseness of a large video gathering is that those who are struggling with the current world situation stay in “false positive” mode. Too many of us are claiming to be fine because sharing pain in a large group is just too hard. Take a break from always being positive and upbeat or on.
Play a Game
Rather than just video chatting or Zooming, consider finding an online game that will allow you to focus on something away from the screen. Again, the act of being on video can be troubling for some. If you’ve got a smartphone, you can play UNO online with friends and family of all ages.
To freely communicate during these games, take care not to get too big or too competitive. Be sure to invite in beginners to keep things light and friendly. A lot of gentle communication can be going on as the game gets played, but you don’t have to feel pressured to constantly be “on”.
Write a Deeply Personal Letter
If you have an elder loved one who is particularly struggling with the electronic process, try to schedule a weekly phone conversation to allow them to share their feelings. Additionally, sit down and write them a letter.
Writing a letter allows you to get your thoughts and feelings in order without being interrupted or having to respond to what they’ve just said. You can go more deeply into a memory or an experience that you cherish. Let them know that you care about them. Consider asking them for their memories and experiences so you have a structure that you can respond to for your next round of letter-writing.
Create a Shared Coffee Date
Many of us know of friends and family that are facing financial struggles. Even if your funds are low, consider gifting them with coffee or tea through the mail and setting a virtual coffee date. Even if you can’t see them, you can picture them in their favorite chair, sipping the treat you sent, while you sit in your favorite spot enjoying a cup of your favorite beverage.
Call them or send a text. It may be easier for them to express themselves via text; again, they can write their stories without worrying about having to respond. Being alone is already hard enough. Being lonely and dealing with financial stress can become a crushing burden. Clear a space in your day that only includes communication with them in whatever format works best for them.
Take a Class Together
Many of us want to get better at crafts, such as sewing, knitting or crochet. If you’re sheltering in place, it may just be you and your yarn at various points in the day. Find a tutorial video that works for you and share it with another friend who’s yarn-rich but craft-challenged and watch the video together, then schedule a phone call to compare notes.
Free education off of YouTube can work for any issue you’re struggling with. If you’re trying to stay active but finding that you’re either eating poorly or not exercising, find a yoga video and share it with a friend in the same boat. Take a budgeting class together and share notes on the good ideas you are able to use. Find a cooking video, a budgeting tutorial or an organizing lesson that could help you in your life and share it with a like-minded friend.
It’s entirely possible to get a lot of information off of a video and have most of it simply wash away, unused. Discussing the video content with a friend can help information stick in your mind so you can put the lesson to good use in your life.
Socialization is necessary for all human beings. If you’re really down and struggling with the isolation, try to create blocks of time for communication. Schedule a review of a book, article, movie or YouTube video that made an impact on you. There’s no reason not to expand your brain during the pandemic, but if solo study doesn’t work for you, reach out and partner with a friend.