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Along with the deadly impact of COVID-19, the virus has also affected the mental health of people all around the world. The cancellations of major events, social distancing, and working from home have become all too familiar for many of us. Modern technology has often been accused of adversely affecting relationships and making us less connected. However, despite our fatigue with the online world, technology does have certain benefits in these strange times.

There were lots of online classes and courses available long before any lockdowns, but today these are a great option to remain connected with others. You can take part in yoga sessions, fitness classes, or try to master a different language. You might enroll in a painting or cooking class, even with a group of friends online.

If you’ve been missing friends that you used to have coffee or a cold beverage with throughout the year, you can do this virtually as well. Sharing a coffee, tea, beer, or a glass of wine while connected via the internet may not be ideal, but it’s another way to feel less cut off from the world. We can also keep in touch with people with text messages, email, and through sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram where we can let people know what we’ve been up to, catch up with what’s happening in the lives of others, and share photos and videos.

With technology we can all be in a room together, even if we’re not physically in the same place. For video calls, Zoom is the platform that we seem to hear most about these days, but there’s also Google Hangouts, Skype, and FaceTime for those with Apple devices. It’s never going to be the same as being with people in person but virtual hugs and still better than none at all and go a long way to reducing the feeling of isolation many of us feel from time to time. For grandparents, the separation from grandchildren has been very difficult, but again technology can bridge the gap. Video calls help everyone to stay in touch and grandparents can even read bedtime stories to the little ones. And of course, it’s important to remember that we don’t always need to see those that we’re talking to. We’ve all used phones for many years and can easily call people to catch up that way too.

As Christmas approaches, the festive season certainly promises to be quite different this year. However, it’s great to know that there are still plenty of ways for us to enjoy our holiday traditions. For some families, certain holiday-themed movies are a tradition. However, just because you can’t all snuggle beside each other on the couch, you can still watch the movie together at the same time, just in a different way. There are also online versions of classic games, such as the ones you might have played at Christmas with family members, like Monopoly, Scrabble, Clue, and many more. You can even play Charades while connected to others via a video screen.

While it’s certainly not the same as a traditional festive meal, technology does allow us to have virtual dinners. If you’re unable to visit family and friends in person, you can set up your laptop or phone and join others virtually. And just like in a video meeting with work colleagues, you can have a conversation in much the same way as you might do in real life. And if you’re planning to connect on-screen with family members on December 25, why not combine that with a virtual present opening session? For those that aren’t able to be there in person, technology offers a wonderful option to experience the reaction of the youngest family members, as they open their gifts on the big day.

Things might be very different this holiday season, but we can all still have a virtual little Christmas.

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