It’s impossible to imagine that we were all spending time with friends less than one year ago whenever we wanted to! I don’t know about you, but I have this persistent feeling of missing out. It’s more than that, though. I think I just genuinely miss being with and truly connecting with friends. Even though we still can’t connect with friends the way we’d like to, I’ve worked on this post with Tracy Davis, my colleague, to come up with this fun and hopefully inspiring list for you!
We’ve long known that having friendships is so important to our happiness and well-being. Recent research suggests that friendships can help us find purpose and meaning, stay healthy, and even live longer. The intimacy, support, and emotional bonds we have in our friendships are unique.
Science journalist Lydia Denworth and author of Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond, explains that “The science of friendship gives you permission to hang out with your friends and call it healthy.” Adding, “You’re not indulgent.” Friendship is just as vital to our health as diet and exercise. We need our friends, especially now, even if it’s connecting remotely.
Take a look a look at eight fun and engaging ways to connect here:
1. A Little Bit of Everything Club
A serious twist on the book club, where each month the host picks from various things for everyone to do. Whether that’s reading an article from a magazine, newspaper, etc., listening to a podcast episode, trying a new meditation practice, or watching a documentary or virtual author book talk, it’s a great opportunity to explore new ideas and learn new things while broadening our horizons.
Hot Podcasts that you may enjoy listening to:
Michelle Obama Podcast (https://open.spotify.com/show/71mvGXupfKcmO6jlmOJQTP) The Michelle Obama Podcast features the former First Lady diving deep into conversations with loved ones—family, friends, and colleagues—on the relationships in our lives that make us who we are.
This American Life (https://www.thisamericanlife.org). Each week, hosted by Ira Glass, they choose a theme and put together different stories on that theme.
The Daily (https://www.nytimes.com/column/the-daily) daily news podcast and radio show by the American newspaper The New York Times. Hosted by Times political journalist Michael Barbaro, its episodes are based on the Times’ reporting of the day with interviews of journalists from the New York Times.
Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend (https://www.earwolf.com/show/conan-obrien/)
Armchair Expert (https://armchairexpertpod.com) A weekly podcast hosted by actor, director, and writer Dax Shepard and Emmy-nominated Monica Padman. Each podcast features Shepard and Padman interviewing celebrities as well as journalists and academics about “the messiness of being human.
Dare to Lead with Brene Brown (https://brenebrown.com/dtl-podcast/) Conversations with change-catalysts, culture-shifters, and more than a few troublemakers who are innovating, creating, and daring to lead. (I’m obsessed)
Serial (https://serialpodcast.org). Serial is an investigative journalism podcast hosted by Sarah Koenig, narrating a nonfiction story over multiple episodes.
The Way I See It: Pete Souza captures historic and intimate moments as a photographer for President Barack Obama and President Ronald Reagan. (https://www.amazon.com/Way-I-See-Dawn-Porter/dp/B08KYK4VPD)
Sir David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet (https://www.netflix.com/title/80216393)
Showbiz Kids (https://www.hbo.com/documentaries/showbiz-kids)
Short Stories to Read:
Why I Don’t Write and Other Stories by Susan Minot (https://bookshop.org/books/why-i-don-t-write-and-other-stories/9780525658245)
The Best American Short Stories by Roxanne Gay(https://www.amazon.com/Best-American-Short-Stories-2018-ebook/dp/B078FGZ95D)
Virtual Author Conversations:
Check your local library or book stores for virtual events or these online resources:
Airbnb Experiences. A vast collection of experiences to explore and have from home.
Masterclass. Sign up for a class with friends, and study together while learning from true masters.
2. Wine Club is a Great Way to Stay Connected with Friends
Because, why not! There are so many fun ways to do this. For example, each month, pick a wine varietal and have everyone research a different aspect (smell, palate, origin, etc.). Then, come together online or outside (socially distanced, of course) and discuss what each person learned.
Need some help to get started, check out some of these sites virtual wine tasting programs, classes, and more.
3. Try a Netflix Club to Catch Up with Friends and See What They are Watching!
Trade the books for movies (or documentaries or TV shows) and have everyone come in already having watched the month’s feature. Many films have discussion questions online and take turns to have everyone prepare/lead discussions. Or if you are savvy, there’s also “Netflix Party,” an extension that lets multiple Netflix users watch a show together from different locations (you’ll need a computer and the Chrome browser). It has a group chat function, which means you can virtually connect with friends and chat about the show between bites and sips.
The Queen’s Gambit (if you haven’t seen this – put it at the very top of your list)
The Queer Eye
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman (watch the Kim Kardashian interview- so good!)
My Octopus Teacher
The Trial of the Chicago 7
4. Connect with Friends and Hold Eachother Accountable with a Fitness Club
This club is perfect for all of us who need extra motivation! Over a glass of wine or smoothie (whatever you prefer), you can discuss personal fitness goals, current workout habits and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. You can determine a collaborative fitness schedule that encourages each person to try something new during the month. Maybe one person loves snowshoeing and suggests their favorite trails while others share their daily virtual pilates or yoga class. There are no limits, and you will get to try workouts you probably hadn’t thought of before.
Here are a few to check out:
Pelton App (https://www.onepeloton.com/app)
Issac Calpito: Breakout star of virtual fitness during quarantine, creator of Torch’d: NYC & the Hamptons. Danced on Broadway, trains superstars & wears tight shorts. (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/26/style/self-care/isaac-calpito-torchd-workout.html) He is living every day at 11 am EST on Instagram.
HOUSEWORK is a full-body sculpting and conditioning workout set to the beat of electronic and house music. Pilates and cardio. $13 per class. https://www.sydneyamiller.com/housework-live-stream
Rumble Boxing: You can stream daily Rumble-themed workouts on Instagram Live, no equipment necessary. Many of the classes feature a combination of boxing and bodyweight exercises. https://www.instagram.com/doyourumble/
5. A Money Club to Share Ideas on all Different Aspects of Finance and Investing
We often choose to deal with money problems in private when in actuality, many of us have friends and family dealing with similar issues. The topics are endless, from regrouping financially after a divorce to addressing unexpected college expenses. As a result, money clubs have become the new book club. You can choose how personal you get, but most people probably have unique perspectives to share about money. Each month you can tackle topics ranging from what tips and tricks everyone uses to save money? Insight into investing in stocks and bonds. How to talk to aging parents about their finances. Together you can reach your financial goals.
For ideas on how to break the ice discussing some tough topics check out:
The Financial Diet ( https://thefinancialdiet.com) A lifestyle blog with a major emphasis on personal finance. Not only do they offer general financial advice, but they also share personal stories and advice for life situations that any millennial woman could find herself in.
The Women’s Institute for Financial Education (www.WIFE.org) is the oldest non-profit organization dedicated to providing financial education to women in their quest for financial independence. Their mission is to empower women to succeed and prosper.
6. A Goal Partners Club can Keep Everyone on Track and Motivated!
It is always good to have short and long-term goals, but sometimes we need an extra push to get them done. How great it is that we have friends for this! Each month everyone picks one (or more) goals and helps keep each other accountable. At each meeting, you can go over what everyone has done to move closer to their target and discuss what they will do before the next meeting (and congratulate their success with some wine!). Something as simple as knowing that others are aware of your goals can help motivate you to complete them.
7. A Charity Club is a Great Way to Connect and Share Ideas
Help the world while bonding. When you donate money to a charity, you often wonder if you are making a difference. But what if you pool your money together? The power of collective giving to support local nonprofits and change lives can be powerful. It is a simple approach to giving back to the community. Each meeting, a member puts forth a charity that they would like the group to support, explain what the nonprofit does in the community, and how the group donation could make a difference for those they serve. Together you discuss the proposed charity and ways you can help as a group, whether financially, in-kind, or in-person.
8. Discover New Recipes and Techniques Through a Cooking Online Club
Select a classic or new cookbook that everyone has on their shelves. Everyone then agrees to prepare a dish from it to enjoy at home on the same night. Then, hop online and enjoy a meal together, discussing how each dish turned out and what they looked like in real life. You will share a meal in real-time while catching up on so much more than just the recipe.
You can also mix it up and, every few months, take a free online cooking class together offered through places like:
Udemy offers 65,000 online courses, including plenty of food-related and culinary courses. For instance, you can learn the essentials, take a healthy living with a “no oil” recipes course, or learn how to make Thai specialties. (https://www.udemy.com)
Chef Gordon Ramsay, best known for his multiple restaurants worldwide and tv shows like MasterChef, has cooking lessons on YouTube that take you through every step of preparing delicious meals. There are multiple videos in the Ultimate Cookery Course lineup: http://www.youtube.com/gordonramsay.
Have a sweet tooth? Every day, Christina Tosi, the mastermind behind Milk Bar, hosts a baking club on Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/christinatosi/channel/ The night before the lesson, she posts a photo of what you’ll need; most of it might already be in your pantry, and the next day she goes live at 2 p.m. EST for about 45 minutes to walk you through baking a new treat. The live videos are available for 24 hours, but there are links to her website recipes.
I hope you have fun trying some of these ideas! Let me know how if you have any other ideas on connecting remotely. I would love to hear from you!
For more on feeling connected, look here.
To discover charities that support women and children, look here.