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Connecting at a distance

Now that we have to keep as much distance from each other as possible, it’s more important than ever to stay connected. You can do so in all kinds of fun, creative ways.

'We can't stop the coronavirus, but we can do something about the loneliness virus. Let's work together to make sure no one feels alone.’ With these apt words during his televised address, King Willem-Alexander called for connection at a time when we need to keep our distance from each other more than ever.

The King hit the nail on the head with his speech. Due to ‘social distancing’, at least 61 percent of Dutch people feel lonelier than before the outbreak of the coronavirus. This was revealed by an RIVM survey conducted among 51,000 participants.

We can no longer just drop in on family, we have to skip our friends' birthday parties, we can’t remember the last time we went out to dinner, and haven't had a beer in the canteen at our sports club in ages. However, while this increases our physical distance from our circle of acquaintances, it doesn’t have to stop us socializing.

Even at a distance, you stay in close contact with your nearest and dearest, connect with them and re-energize yourself. The following are some helpful tips for doing this:

Call a friend, neighbor or colleague

Whether it's your friend, neighbor or colleague: we're all in the same boat. It can help to talk with each other about the situation we’re all in. Who knows, maybe your neighbor has some helpful tips to share, or you can help your colleague remotely. Even if you can't help them, it's still a good idea to pick up the phone from time to time. After all, a spontaneous call certainly can’t do any harm!

There are also opportunities hidden within limitations  

Through experiencing limitations, we discover new opportunities that we would otherwise have overlooked. These can be very small, such as a good conversation, or finding time for yourself that you haven’t had for a long time. Enjoy these moments and realize how valuable they are. As British statesman Winston Churchill once said, ‘Never waste a good crisis’!

Arrange a digital cup of coffee or Friday afternoon drinks

We are all familiar with these experiences: conversations with colleagues at the coffee machine, or a Friday afternoon beer or wine at the pub to usher in the weekend. We can still do these things, but digitally instead of in person. Suggest something casually, and see who joins in! You could talk about last night’s football match while enjoying a cup of coffee, or muse on your weekend plans with a beer in your hand. 

Devise your own exercise challenge

Just because we have to stay home as much as possible doesn't mean we have to sit still. On the contrary – the more active we are, the better! You can do so in all kinds of ways. Come up with your own exercise challenge, together with colleagues, friends or family. You can make it as hard or easy as you like. An added benefit is that it's also good for group spirit.  

Meet up with someone

Would you still like to enjoy the company of your best friend during a walk, or go for a run with your dad? Meeting up with someone one-on-one is possible, as long as you make sure you keep at a distance of 1.5 m from each other.

Spread the word

Are you doing everything you can to stay active enough at home? Tell your friends, family and colleagues about it – perhaps your infectious enthusiasm will inspire them to stay fit and vital at home too. Who knows, you might even be able to swap tips!

Help each other

How is your grandmother doing in the nursing home? Can you do something to help your neighbor who has trouble getting about? Above all, remember to think of those who could use some extra help. A chat at 1.5 m or a phone call can be enough. And as an added bonus, by helping others, you will feel more positive too.

Dare to ask for help

If you are struggling with something and need a good conversation or listening ear, try talking to someone close to you or a trained professional. Receiving the right help will get you underway.

Remember to video call

If you work from home and generally stay in contact with colleagues by e-mail or phone, remember to alternate this with a conversation in which you can see each other, for example through FaceTime, Zoom or Teams. Being able to see each other often makes the contact feel more personal than when you only hear each other’s voice. 

Do something fun with your family

It might sound crazy, but now that you’re working from home a lot and your kids are also often at home, it's more important than ever to make time for the things that you all enjoy doing together. This could be anything from reading a book aloud to cooking a meal together, or listening to music or taking a walk together. You might even discover new shared interests!

Find your tribe

You’re not the only one having to deal with the current situation. In fact, there are a great many people who are encountering the same problems, need social contact at a distance, or who feel lonely.

We have selected a number of websites that you might find helpful. For example, take a look at to see what initiatives there are in your community. In the Brainport region, Waalre ( and Eindhoven ( are good examples of this.

You can also check out,, or, if you’re aged over 50,

For more tips and information, visit

Author: Nina de Rooij, PSV lifestyle consultant