As the world of constant food delivery and quarantine couch living draws to a close, there are some aspects of the pandemic life that you’ll miss. While it’s safe to say that no one will be pining for pre-vaccine life anytime soon, we will miss the time spent focusing on relationships that would otherwise be neglected.
As life resumes its normal pace, here are some fun ways to maintain these friendships through a bit of prioritization and dedication to quality time.
1. Host a Dedicated Zoom Happy Hour
Do you miss meeting at your favorite local watering hole to trade war stories from the trenches of your nine to five? In the tradition of the post-work happy hour with friends and co-workers, simply shift the locale to virtual and now you can complain about your WFH situation. A specific time to gather and blow off steam will keep the bonds of friendship stronger than ever. Another added bonus is the money you’ll save by being your own bartender.
It can even be fun to theme each weekly call with a cocktail, you’ll expand your bartending repertoire and enhance the feeling of connectivity by sharing in the same sensory experience. For fun, and easy cocktail recipes there are loads of websites to look to for inspiration. This one, in particular, corrals all the best and most common recipes together in one place, just like you and your friends will be in spirit.
2. Create an Online Gaming Group
Screen time usage increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. With ample free time, almost every age group began to spend more time online, connecting and gaming. Post pandemic, you can keep this connectivity going by creating an online gaming group. Maybe you all want to relive the days of Mario Kart, or a little Call of Duty helps to keep you and your friends in touch.
Whatever your poison is, in one survey, 68% of respondents used online games to fulfill their social interaction needs during the pandemic. Clearly, gaming provides some pretty significant benefits when it comes to keeping you social and happy.
Poll your friends and create a group dedicated to playing an online game you all enjoy. A little healthy competition or friendly rivalry will go a long way towards keeping in touch. By partaking in a common interest together, even while not physically near one another, you’ll stay tight with your far away besties.
3. Facetime Whenever Possible
Chances are, this past year, you spent a lot of time gazing at a handheld screen that showed you the faces you cherish. Now that you’re able to move around more, it doesn’t mean the constant Facetiming has to stop. In fact, it shouldn’t, as the benefits of Facetime are legitimate. Of course, be safe about it, no Facetime-ing while actively moving (ahem- driving) but when you feel the urge to reach out, switch from a call to a Facetime.
So much of the emotion we convey to one another, is passed through body language and facial expressions not speech. When you can pull a face at your cousin’s lame joke, or roll your eyes at yet another work gossip story from a friend, the experience means that much more. So consider taking the time to make this habit a routine.
4. Start a Virtual Book Club
For those who prefer the written word to a computer screen, you and your fellow bibliophiles can reconnect over a virtual book club. Discussions over literature spark deep academic conversations that will doubtlessly leave you feeling closer to your friends. These types of discourse create bonds over new shared ideas and storylines. Shared experiences help to cement relationships and keep you close no matter where on the earth you’re discussing the newest fantasy trilogy from.
Pick a monthly date to host a webinar or Zoom book club meeting. Alternate who picks the book every month and this gives each one of your friends the chance to share an author or series dear to them. Book subscriptions are also a great way to limit options, and make sure everyone can get their hands on the same book every month.
5. Meme Life
Yes, there will undoubtedly be Gen-Zers shaking their heads, but substitute memes for pictures and the idea remains the same. Sharing snippets of humor or joy throughout the day is bound to boost your friend’s mood and in return yours. Why not bring a little more light into the lives of the people you care about the most?
Find hilarious meme pages on Instagram, or recipes on Pinterest, or even beautiful sunset photos from your backyard. Allow your friends to truly share in everyday experiences with you. You can laugh about the same jokes and even discover new hobbies while miles apart. Remember to remind them that they are in your thoughts and you will be rewarded in kind.
6. Stream Your Favorite TV Shows Together
Did you gather to watch Game of Thrones weekly, or live-tweet the Bachelorette? If you have a favorite show, keep the tradition going and continue to watch loyally. Have everyone tune in at the same time, and create a group chat to give each other minute-by-minute opinions. Not quite the same as being in the same room, but the effort and connectivity is there.
Life in the 21st century is stressful, with new craziness appearing every month. A little healthy escapism with your closest buddies is a great way to destress. Your friendship will be that much stronger for preserving shared passions even with the distance between you.
Having long-term friendships in your corner will help to bolster you through all that life throws at you. Maybe one silver lining you can take from the year that was 2020, is the power of keeping your friends close. Hopefully, these ideas will help you to keep the flame of your long-distance friendships alive. Space and distance can be overcome with dedication and creative virtual gatherings. Go forth and bond!