This year National Conversation Week is all about using the power of conversation to support us through tough times. The first half of the year has been a worrying and challenging period for many people.
During social distancing, with people separated from friends, family, and support networks, it’s more important than ever that we find ways to connect to lift our spirits. Here are fifteen ways to keep conversation alive and improve wellbeing.
In 2020, there are more ways of staying in touch than ever before. Social media platforms, messaging apps, and video conferencing technology are all ways of holding worldwide long-distance conversations. Alternating between the different kinds of technology helps to freshen up the conversation.
If you usually message your friends, why not switch it up and record a short voice note for them? Good old-fashioned phone calls are still one of the best ways to stay in touch, especially with those who aren’t as tech-savvy.
Those living in the same households are suddenly spending a lot more time together due to the lockdown.
Many couples or families have never been together for such a long period of time; tensions might be rising, and conversation topics drying up. It’s the perfect opportunity to get to know each other a bit better, simply by asking questions. Why not write up a list of questions you’ve always wanted to know the answer to, and take it in turns to quiz each other? Questions could range from your first ever memory, to what you’d choose as your last ever meal, to the biggest risk you’ve ever taken.
Many parents across the UK are trying to balance home schooling with other responsibilities, often whilst working from home. Meanwhile, children may be struggling with the lack of routine, missing their friends and family, and trying to keep up with education outside of the classroom environment.
Taking regular breaks together is a great time to chat about things other than schoolwork, from hopes and dreams to favourite book characters and what superpowers they’d choose. You may even want to write down some snippets of the conversations as a record of this unusual time.
Even with restaurants and bars closed, there’s no need to miss out on catching up with friends over a drink or a meal.
Organise a time to “meet”, swap your PJs for a nice top, and pour your favourite tipple. For a virtual happy hour chat to run as smoothly as possible, keep guests to a manageable number, and set up the conference call in advance so there’s no messing around with technology to disrupt the flow of conversation.
Learning to speak a second language is a lifelong ambition for many, and those with spare time might choose to finally start working towards that goal.
There are plenty of free resources online and on mobile apps to help get you started. Conversation is one of the best ways to practice. You’ll be able to chat fluently in two languages in no time at all!
Finance-based anxieties can have a negative impact on mental health, so it’s important to talk through them.
Many people may be worried or unsure about their current financial situation due to Coronavirus, and might look to review their outgoings. Speaking to a financial adviser over the phone or video chat will help you to understand your finances, check that your current financial products meet your needs or if they need updating, and give you peace of mind. If you’ve never spoken to a financial adviser before, now is the ideal time.
Over a million people in England have already volunteered to help the NHS, charities, and community groups during the pandemic.
There are plenty of roles that will make a real difference during this difficult time, such as safely delivering medicines and food to vulnerable people or collecting for food banks. One important task is making regular phone calls to check that people isolating at home are ok, or taking the time to call people who may be suffering from increased loneliness.
A relaxing way to connect with friends is by watching a film or TV show together – but safely, from your own homes.
Press play at the same time whilst on a separate video call, or go one step further and use a free “watch party” service that allows you to perfectly synchronize your viewing whilst chatting about the film on the same screen.
Don’t forget the popcorn!
If you’re a fan of trivia, why not set up a virtual quiz, or join in with one being hosted online?
You can take it in turns to host, or get everyone to play quizmaster for different rounds. Or, you could all take individual tests – like this National Conversation Week quiz – and compare your results with your friends.
If you prefer games of chance, why not take part in an online just-for-fun bingo night? There are plenty of themed options, including music bingo where you fill your card with your favourite songs and hope they get played!
Now might be the perfect time to dust off that guitar or set of knitting needles that you always wanted to learn how to use, but never quite found the right moment.
Joining online communities of people interested in the same hobby is a great way to connect with like-minded people and chat about your interests, as well as benefitting from their advice and tips.
Beat social distancing boredom by playing your favourite board games online.
You’ll be able to find something for everyone, with online versions of family classics such as Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly, or Boggle, or more modern games including Ticket to Ride and Codenames.
Pairing the game with a video or phone call will help it feel more like a real games night.
Taking some time out for reading is a good way to relax.
Joining an online book club where you can discuss what you’re reading is a great way to get chatting, or you can read books with your children and use it as a starting off point for conversations with them.
If you’re missing the younger members of the family that you don’t live with, why not offer to read them a story over video call? Parents might be glad of the distraction!
Feeling a bit trapped? Escape rooms have become a popular pastime in recent years – a group challenge where you get “locked in” a room with a series of puzzles to complete so you can escape.
The rooms are closed during the pandemic, but some organisations are offering online escape sessions, where you and your friends can all log in from your homes, and play a video-based version of the game.
For groups that live together, there are a huge range of DIY kits that contain everything you need to replicate an escape room at home, that come in a box or for you to download and print.
Talking through the puzzles together is the best way to beat the challenge!
If you and your friends have the same video games consoles, there are plenty of ways that you can play together online – either working together or playing as rivals.
Many games give you the ability to chat at the same time using a headset.
Since the Coronavirus outbreak began in the UK, hundreds of new local groups have been set up on social media or messaging apps such as WhatsApp. Some cover whole areas, and others are specific to one street.
In all cases, the idea is to keep communities connected and talking throughout this difficult time. Joining your local group, or setting one up if it doesn’t already exist, is a great way to quickly and easily keep in touch with neighbours, making it easier for people to offer to help those in need, or check in to make sure everyone is doing okay.