While many of our public health heroes may be working long hours during this pandemic to take care of the health and well-being of others, please remember that your health and well-being is important too. It is normal to experience stress and anxiety during a pandemic like COVID-19. However, it is important to recognize that despite the need to remain at least 2 metres from those who do not live with you, we can continue to be connected socially at a distance. As one of the most social species on earth, social connection is important for the health and well-being of humans like you and I.

Many of us are practicing physical distancing in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, it does not mean that we cannot be socially connected. While a strong social support network can help improve our capacity and resilience to manage our stress and anxiety, it is also important to take the time to reach out to those who may find times like this to be particularly stressful whether it is through a text, call, or video chat.

Although the value of face-to-face interactions cannot be fully replaced, we can be flexible and find creative new ways to facilitate ongoing meaningful connections with family, friends, neighbours and our community while maintaining a physical distance.

Ideas to connect with loved ones virtually

With a bit of support from technology and creativity, you can share fun experiences with family and friends remotely.

Host a virtual gathering

If you cannot meet your family member or friend in person for lunch, why not move the meeting online? There are digital communication platforms that allow you to have a video chat or group call to spend quality time with family and friends.

Google Meet

In response to the needs of employees, educators, and students who are working or studying remotely, Google is kindly offering free access to advanced Google Meet video-conferencing capabilities, which will allow G Suite and G Suite for Education customers to:

  • Have meetings for up to 250 participants per call
  • Live stream up to 100,000 viewers within a domain
  • Record meetings and save them to Google Drive

All G Suite and G Suite for Education clients can access these features until September 30, 2020 for free. For more information, please click here.

Zoom

Zoom is a communications technology company that offers videotelephony and online chat services that allows for video and audio conferencing, collaboration, chat, and webinars. The number of Zoom users has increased significantly compared to before the coronavirus pandemic.

For more information on how to use Zoom more effectively, please click here.

Skype

Skype is a communication tool that can be used an app for messaging, video chat and voice calls. It is possible to use Skype to have a video call with up to 50 people whether it is between computers, tablets, mobile devices, the Xbox One console, or smartwatches. For more information, please click here.

Enjoy a meal at a distance

While it may be hard to have a meal together at this time, you can still enjoy one of your own culinary creations at a distance with your friend. One of my friends and I had brunch on a Sunday, which allowed us to catch up while enjoying a great meal.

Here are some sites with great recipes that you may be interested in trying out:

Go on a virtual field trip

Amidst times like these, there are still many great places that you can visit with a friend at no cost from the comfort of your home from riding one of Canada’s Wonderland roller coasters, exploring the arts and culture from around the world, to visiting museums, zoos, and various performances.

Enjoy a game

There are several games that can be played with your loved ones, including but not limited to the following:

Skribbl Io

Skribbl Io is a free drawing and guessing game. You can create a private room and enjoy a game of Skribbl.io with up to 12 family and friends. In a game, there are a few rounds. In each round, a person draws their chosen word while others guess what the individual illustrated. If they guess the image correctly, then they will gain points. The winner is the person with the most points at the end of the game. If you are interested in trying out this game with your friends, please click here.

Jackbox Games

Jackbox Games makes a variety of games, including but not limited to Jackbox Party Pack franchise, Quiplash, Fibbage, and Trivia Murder Party. Jackbox Games also shared information on how to play their games at a distance. For more information, please click here.

Staying active

I always find it more motivating when I exercise with a friend. There are videos and apps that generously share ways to stay active from yoga, dance, to barre.

Ways to bring joy to your neighbours at a distance

While I may not be able to give my neighbor a high five, I was able to exchange friendly greetings with one of my neighbours over the fence the other day or wave from my kitchen window to my other neighbour while doing dishes. As for one of my friends who lives in a condo recently found a plant outside her door from her neighbour with a note wishing her joy and hope. Another way to bring a smile to your neighbour is to consider sharing a positive message on your window, sidewalk or condo message board.

Contribute to your community at home

If you have some time, volunteering may be a great way to connect with your community at a distance. Government of Canada, Kids Help Phone, and other organizations are looking for remote volunteers. There are also Facebook groups to lend your expertise and time to support vulnerable members in the community such as CareMongering-TO: TO Community Response to COVID19, Caremonger Oshawa and Clarington, or Mile End (+ Outremont + Plateau W) COVID-19 MUTUAL SUPPORT MUTUEL. If you are interested in helping a medical professional with their grocery shopping, GroceryHero Canada matches a volunteer with a medical professional in their neghbourhood whereby the volunteer will help the medical professional shop for their groceries so that our medical health professionals can focus on tackling COVID-19. There are also children who do not have access to laptops and computers to learn. If you have laptops at home that you may not be using, please consider donating it to Electronic Recycling Association so that Electronic Recycling Association can provide free or low-cost computers to qualified families.

Let’s work in solidarity to connect with one another at a distance.

About the author

Lis Huang is a Content Creator at PH SPOT. She has a passion for collaborating with others to address complex systemic issues to improve the lives of others, especially vulnerable and marginalized populations. She holds a Master of Science in Global Health from McMaster University. With her strong interest in capacity building, she joined the PH SPOT team to support the professional development needs and interests of the public health community.