Everyone knows by now that the best way to flatten the coronavirus curve is to stay at home as much as possible and practice physical distancing. But as weeks of social distancing drag into months, cabin fever and loneliness have begun to set in.

Luckily, in this digital age, there are many ways to stay emotionally connected that still let you stay six feet apart. So, whether it is connecting with grandma and grandpa or keeping up your regular weekly Happy Hour, here are some ways to stay together while being apart.

Video Conferencing – As much of the workforce has largely move to telework, video conferences have become nearly everyday occurrences for many. The same technology that lets a work team come together also can bring family and friends together. Many platforms are up to the task – Skype, Zoom, Facebook Video Chat, or Google Hangout among them – and while each offers slightly different services all give you a chance to see friends face-to-face, or let grandma and grandpa see their grandkids. So, when you are missing your loved ones, plan a Happy Hour, an egg hunt, or have a family dinner together.

Watch Parties – While “Netflix and Chill” is no longer an option, the streaming giant has come up with another idea – Netflix Party. The free service – which is a Google Chrome extension – lets a group synchronize video playback and have group chat to while watching any of Netflix’s offerings.

Virtual Book Clubs – With everyone stuck inside, now is the time to catch up on your reading list. Grab a group of friends, pick a book, and have a virtual book club. It’s a great opportunity to keep your mind busy and give you a new way to connect. If you need help choosing a good book, MeriTalk has put together a reading list for you (or your kids) – don’t worry, it isn’t tech themed.

Online Games – Whether you like to play a board game or challenge your friends to a trivia contest – the competition doesn’t need to end. You can play an online computer game like Settlers of Catan, connect over Xbox, or visit each other’s islands on Animal Crossing.

Social Media Challenges – If you use Instagram, chances are you’ve seen challenges floating through your friends’ stories. If you’ve resisted joining in on the fun, now is the time to hop on board. Miss your workout buddies? Start a “See 10, do 10” challenge. Want to share photos of your furry quarantine roommate? Try a “See a dog, share a dog” challenge. Pick something that is unique to your friends and start the challenge.

Put Pen to Paper – Emails and texts messages are great, but there is something special about receiving a handwritten letter. If you’ve got little ones who haven’t quite mastered their ABCs, have them put crayon to paper and draw a picture for their grandparents or other loved ones.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.