13 Ways to Stay Connected With Loved Ones When You Can't Touch
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Humans are hard-wired for touch. Skin-to-skin contact is critical to an infant’s survival and throughout life, touch releases the “feel good” hormone oxytocin and reduces your cortisol (stress) levels. But to slow the spread of COVID-19, you were probably advised to stay at least six feet away from those who aren’t in your household.
Sometimes called skin hunger or touch starvation, not being able to give your loved ones a hug or cozy up for movie night might be taking a toll on your mental health. For those who are immunocompromised, you may have been limiting contact to reduce your risk of infections or viruses long before COVID-19 came along. Either way, there are still ways you can connect even when you can’t be in close proximity to each other.
An expert’s take: According to Sarah Schewitz, Psy.D., a Los Angeles-based psychologist and founder of Couples Learn, connection can come in many forms. Whether it’s cooking the same recipe over video or having long conversations on the phone, physical touch isn’t the only way to build intimacy.
There are many ways to bond, even long distance. Long-distance couples do that all the time. — Sarah Schewitz, Psy.D.
The Mighty partnered with the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) to find out how people are finding creative ways to stay connected, even when they can’t touch.
Here’s what they told us:
1. Video Games
“Video games! My boyfriend and I have had to limit how much we see each other so we play online games with voice chat together.” — Jerica W.
2. Video Messenger Apps
“Messenger… GLOBAL connections. They’ve got groups now so you can go on video in that group w/ more than one person.” — Ancilee K.
“Thankfully, I video chat most of my kids daily. I talk to my granddaughter about every day as well. Thank goodness for Messenger. And Messenger Kids is awesome to let kids have some control over calling family.” — Amma M.
“I’ve found WhatsApp video call brilliant. My mum lives 130 miles away so we rarely see each other anyway, but during lockdown it’s really helped with keeping us connected. I’ve got 3 children and as a single parent I find it very hard sometimes, but seeing my children smiling and my mum smiling because of this free video link has been very uplifting.” — Lydia R.
3. Social Distancing Visits
“Mine and my father’s birthdays were during this. We met in his backyard and had a socially distant picnic where we celebrated both of our birthdays!” — Liz T.
“I stop by my dad’s occasionally. … I keep my 6 feet distance. Sometimes we get food, sometimes we just sit and talk.” — Tina A.
4. Phone Calls
“I call them. Just hearing their voice makes me feel a lot better, a lot more connected. When it’s not possible to call and we have to text, I send them emojis that make them feel loved, to let them know I’m there for them to offer support when I can.” — Samima K.
5. Sending Photos
“I write little notes, send recent photos. If I can’t reach them on the phone, will leave a loving phone mail message.” — Joyce S.
6. Handmade Postcards
“I have postcards I color and send out.” — Ivy K.
7. Making Friendship Bracelets
“My 6 and 9 year old have been making friendship bracelets and origami sent in a letter to their cousins.” — Brandy H.
9. Writing Letters
“Writing letters. The physical act of writing and sending them, and receiving something physical back that the person has actually touched really helps me to feel less disconnected and like friends actually still exist even though I can’t see them.” — Sirena A.
“My mum is in nursing care and is blind, we have been writing letters and short stories for her. The wonderful Care workers sit and have a cuppa with her as they read her the letters.” — Cathy G.
10. Virtual Coffee Time
“Me and my friend have been having virtual coffee mornings on Zoom.” — Laura J.
11. Visits Through the Window
“I go to where my mom is in rehab for broken femur and sit outside her window and we talk to each other on the phone. At least we get to see each other even though she can’t open the window. We laugh a lot because there’s a delay on the phone and our lips don’t match the words, looks like an old dubbed movie.” — Kaye B.
12. Sharing Positive Reminders
“We often send/exchanges beautiful inspirational quotes, songs and video clips to laugh at and somehow ease the anxiety this situation is giving us all.” — Annie M.
13. Virtual Group Activities
“We play games on the HouseParty app. We all sign up for the same virtual paint night so we’re all creating the same painting on a Zoom link. (Last night my mom, sister, and I all in our own homes did this.)” — Alana E.
How are you staying connected with loved ones? Let us know in the comments!
Header image via jacoblund/Getty Images