During the coronavirus pandemic, we have all learnt methods of how to communicate and keep in touch with our loved ones, whether that be by zoom quiz nights, socially distanced walks or just a simple phone call. With rules surrounding what we can and can’t do always changing, it can be difficult to maintain relationships with our loved ones, especially when it comes to moving away to university or moving home away from your university pals. In this article, I’m going give you some of my favourite ideas on how to maintain those relationships, whether they be your grandparents, partner, pals or siblings, these tips should give you some creative ideas to keep your relationships strong and improve your mental health through communication and ‘covid friendly’ socialising.

Write a letter

Though old fashioned and many young people now may have never sent a letter, it’s a great way to keep in touch with older family members, especially those who do not use the internet or technology. Make sure you include what your university address is if you are at university, or your home address if you’re at home. They’re also great for younger family members who are too young to use technology independently, if they are too young to read then a good idea could be to include lots of pictures or drawings with a little descriptions and some questions at the end for their parent/carer to read to them, which will help them create their reply. This will make your family members feel like you still care, even though you can’t see them in person at the moment and help both of you feel like you are still up to date with each other’s lives.

Zoom or facetime activities

At this point I think we’re all familiar with the concepts of zoom, facetime, Microsoft teams… whatever you want to use, why not organise to do activities with your friends or family? It could be baking something together, a quiz, a craft, yoga, whatever you’re interested in, why not do it together but virtually! This helps to not only keep you in touch with each other but give you something to do and this will improve your wellbeing and keep your brain active too!

Study groups

This is a great idea for if you and some of your course-mates are struggling to find motivation to work. Whether it be discussing ideas, planning essays together or having a fun old game of kahoot, it will help you to find your motivation to work and help to discover those friendships with course-mates, which has been particularly hard for the corona-freshers. It doesn’t necessarily matter if you don’t get much work done during the group, but it could help you to find your motivation to work again by chatting with your course-mates and help you feel less alone. So many students are struggling to find the motivation to get work done now, that sharing the struggle could be mutually beneficial.

Bedtime stories

This one is more for the people who have little siblings or nieces or nephews, cousins, whoever they may be. Children can be especially hard to keep up with, however, they are also the ones who’s lives are always changing so quickly and it is easy to feel guilty when you see them after a long time and see how big they’ve grown or how they can now count to 20 when they could barely talk the last time you spoke to them. It can be hard to keep up. Especially when you’re not allowed to go and see them and little children don’t always understand social distancing, so it can be hard to go on a walk or picnic without breaking the rules. A good idea which a few people have taken up over lockdown is sending their little loved ones ‘bedtime stories’. The concept is that you simply record yourself reading a story which is appropriate for them and sending it to their parent or carer to play for them before they go to bed. This way, they know that you still care about them and helps you to feel like you’re still in contact with them. This also helps to solidify relationships between whoever their parents or carers are and yourself, which can be mutually beneficial for support.

Family and friend’s diary

The concept of a family and/or friends diary is quite a simple one. This could be done through a group chat or Facebook page or whatever your groups preferences are, this is a good way for your family to keep up to date with each other. The concept is that each of the members of your group can share your events from the day with one another, this could be sharing what you cooked for dinner today to running 10k! it could be absolutely anything, but the idea is that you are sharing with a close group of people what you have been doing throughout lockdown and you can also see what they have been doing, which gives a sense of community and support to each other, as well as keeping up to date with what each other have been doing. You can also use these platforms to set challenges for each other or themes for the day or week. This can help you all to have fun setting or partaking in these challenges and bring you all closer together, even though you can’t see each other in person at the moment.

Movie night (lockdown edition)

The concept of watching a movie together is not that creative, but there are now so many platforms where you can watch movies together when you’re not even in the same house! Platforms such as ‘Squad’ and ‘Teleparty’ allow you to watch the same movie together, whilst being able to talk to each other, just as if you were in the same room! This is a great idea for the less talkative people who just want to hang out together and allows you to feel like a bit of normality is here, or for people that simply enjoy watching a movie together!

The important thing to remember here is that although keeping in touch with your loved ones is important, it is also important to take some time for yourself and take care of yourself, for some people this is getting out of bed and having some breakfast before embarking on a day of Netflix but for some people it’s doing a full at home workout followed by a pamper day of bath bombs, face masks and nail polish. It all depends on what you want and need. Looking after yourself during this new time is essential, and that doesn’t just involve making sure you’ve fed yourself a pot noodle and had a shower in the last week, but making time for your mental health too, this could be reading (if paper books aren’t your thing then audio books are great too) or going on a run or just relaxing in front of the tv with your family or flatmates.

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