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How to Stay Connected When You Miss Your Family and Friends

Danielle Dahl, Lead Contributor

Looking for ways to stay connected to your loved ones? Keep reading to learn of some great avenues to foster more meaningful connections with your loved ones.

The Coronavirus pandemic has placed a strain on relationships, especially those with friends and extended family because people were not able to spend time with one another physically.

My siblings and I are a close-knit group, in which I am the oldest of six. Luckily, I live minutes away from two of my sisters in Montana, and before the stay at home orders, we spent time together on an almost daily basis.

Fortunately, we were able to find creative ways to stay connected even when we couldn’t see one another! If you have been looking for ways to stay connected to your loved ones, you have come to the right place. Social media, meeting apps, video technology, and even letter writing are all great avenues to foster more meaningful connections with our loved ones.

How to Stay Connected When You Miss Your Family and Friends

What does staying connected look like for you?

“I miss that feeling of connection. Knowing he was out there somewhere thinking about me at the same time, I was thinking about him.” ― Ranata Suzuki

I have always thought that being connected was about near people. I struggle with long-distance relationships of any kind. For my sisters and I, staying connected typically meant that we play board games, or we went on walks together; other times we would cook dinner together, or just hang out and watch TV. I have missed them desperately over the last two months while we weren’t visiting one another per social distancing guidelines. 

Being distanced from them enhanced the sense of separation I felt about my other siblings, as they live across the country, two in New York and one in Florida. I realized that I needed to do a better job of staying in touch with them even as concerns about the virus lessen. 

How to use social media to stay connected

“The thing that we are trying to do at Facebook is just help people connect and communicate more efficiently.” Mark Zuckerberg

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I am friends with my siblings on Facebook, but before COVID, I didn’t use other forms of social media much. However, as I have been building my writing career, I have spent some time developing my Twitter and Instagram accounts.

I was shocked that all of my brothers and sisters have fairly active Instagram accounts. I shouldn’t have been since they are much younger than I am, ranging anywhere from 3.5 years to 17 years younger. I followed my brother’s Instagram account as soon as I found it, and I am so glad I did!

You see, my brother is a musician, and he shares all his latest songs on Instagram. I used to randomly see his songs when one would show up on my Facebook feed. I enjoy listening to him sing, and I would always share those Facebook posts for him.

However, there is much more music on his Instagram account. Not only did I spend quite a while getting caught up on his new music, but I also got to share and promote them. Helping someone you care about chase their dreams, even in small ways, helps foster a sense of comradery, making you feel more connected. 

One of my sisters set up a group called “Seester Seester” in Messenger, and we talk all day long in there, much more than when we would text one another. We share memes, stories, videos, and pictures, which helps me feel like we are with each other throughout the day. I tried to get one of my sisters, who was refusing to leave her house, to walk with me during the first few weeks of our stay at home order. She refused, and when I said it had been forever since I had seen her, she responded with, “I talk to you all day long now!” And I realized it was the truth!

Social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram offer great ways to maintain a daily connection, like listening to each other sing or laughing over the same silly video. It isn’t the same as doing a group activity, but with Zoom, you can have a virtual gathering!

Host a party with Zoom

“Invisible threads are the strongest ties.” Friedrich Nietzsche 

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There are many things that you can do with Zoom to stay connected. You and a group of friends can grab the same bottle of wine, and cook the same dinner. You can either talk over dinner while eating together or maybe even cook together on Zoom. One of the best things about this app is that it is free! 

My family downloaded the Whodunnit App and played a mystery dinner game together. You can buy a story with parts for up to 21 people for under $10. It has everything you need including costume suggestions! Usually, you do this type of game during a dinner party, where everyone can mingle and have snacks! It is a bit different virtually, but we still had a blast and were able to include my stepmom and her fiance (who live in NY), my kids, and two of my sisters.

I have had friends that have had Zoom happy hours, mixology lessons, and even sip and paints. The possibilities are endless! Technology makes it possible to do so much, but old school forms of communication are also great tools for staying connected.

Write handwritten letters

“By setting aside time every day, we can leave the pixelated wilds and rest at least for a little while in a place of unplugged, authentic human connection.” ― Meghan Cox Gurdon

It might seem a little old-fashioned to go from Facebook and Zoom to handwritten letters, but hear me out! There is something exciting about waiting for a message to arrive in the mailbox. Perhaps, it is the sense of anticipation and the fact that it is not instantaneous. Not only is it fun to be on the receiving end of correspondence by post, but writing letters has its share of benefits!

Haruki Murakami said, “How wonderful it is to be able to write someone a letter! To feel like conveying your thoughts to a person, to sit at your desk and pick up a pen, to put your thoughts into words like this is truly marvelous.” Not only is it marvelous, but your handwriting is uniquely yours. The person you are writing can hold your words in their hands and know that you took the time to write them down. 

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The authors at MindFood point out that “writing promotes mindfulness: just like coloring in creates calmness and relieves anxiety, so too does handwriting. It asks you to slow down and take care in the process – you can’t backspace anything, so you are required to put thought into what you write. Plus, the rhythmic movement of pen-on-paper encourages clarity and peace.”

Staying calm and present

Regardless of which avenue you are using to stay in touch with your family and friends, there is one other thing to consider. We feel the most connected to people when we are calm and present. In times of chaos and crisis like these, being in the moment can be a challenge. It is essential to make sure that you do things that are good for you. This is true whether you are trying to develop relationships in person or virtually.

“Connecting with others gives us a sense of inclusion, connection, interaction, safety, and community. Your vibe attracts your tribe, so if you want to attract positive and healthy relationships, be one! Staying connected and getting reconnected feeds the flow of goodness, which empowers our humanity.” ― Susan C. Young

Did you and your family and friends come up with some unique ways to stay connected during this time? Did you start a podcast or blog with a friend? Feel free to add your suggestions to the comment section! Finding meaningful ways to have better relationships with people we can’t see all the time will benefit us long after the social distancing guidelines ease.

After all, I will eventually be able to see the sisters who live close to me again, but the rest of my family will still be far away! If I have learned anything from this period of social distancing, it is that distance is not as significant a hindrance to relationships as I thought. 

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  1. Melissa

    May 21, 2020 at 1:26 AM

    Seester seester!

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