Work from home is not everyone’s cup of tea. While many have succeeded with their home-based jobs, there are those who are still struggling on how to keep the balance between personal and professional life at home. This transition brought about by the coronavirus pandemic has undeniably changed everything that we have been accustomed to – and somehow affected not only our personal life, but as well as our mental and social balance.
For months, it has been a personal struggle of mine as to how to keep up with life. As a weekend traveler, it was totally difficult to live a life within the walls of our house for almost five months now. That means no more hikes on weekends, no more major climbs, and no more flights and long bus rides.
Traveling was my personal brand of therapy – an escape from workloads and all the shits of this life. So, imagine having no escape for months. A total scuffle.
Mental Health Support
But you see, not all battles are meant to be faced alone. There are those that you can actually share and fight together with along with your friends.
So my friends and I decided to meet up online once a week, listen each other’s sentiments, and just be there for each other. We launched this activity that we fondly call as Fridates – an online meeting where we get to eat together, pray together, and do crazy games and activities. So far, for more than a month now, we have successfully consoled and entertained each other through our faith sharing, trivia, and kwentuhan.
Zoom Activities that you can do with Friends to support Mental Health
To spice up your online video chat and somehow make you feel at ease with whatever you are going through these days, here are some activities and games that you can try on Zoom, MS Teams, FB Rooms, Messenger Room, Google Meet, Skype, or whatever platform you choose to see each other.
On our first week of Fridates, we just allowed each other to share whatever that is that we are feeling, what emotions have surfaced through the week, and what primarily triggers our emotions. Each one was given a chance to pour out whatever is bothering them. The rest of the group was just there to listen – no pieces of advice required. Because sometimes, we don’t need immediate solutions to whatever that is that we are feeling. We just need a space to blurt it out.
At the end of every sharing, provide a minute of reflective time to honor the sharing of your friends.
Trivia with Kahoot!
Another way to somehow entertain each other is to host a trivia night. During our Fridates, we assign a trivia master who will prepare a 15-item quiz (easy, moderate, and difficult round). The trivia master usually align the questions with the theme for the meeting, but he/she can always prepare informative and education fun facts to share.
Unsolicited opinion: Some of our trivia include categories on Kdrama, Asian Culture, Online Conference and Social Media Fun Facts.
One of our Kamote Club members, Jacque, brought her singing career to the next level. She introduced the online videoke to us. As a facilitator, she created her own album with list of songs that we had to choose from and explain how such song resonate with what we are feeling. The twist? Those songs were actually real songs that were just tweaked. After explaining our song choice, we had to sing and complete the missing lyrics of the song to win the game.
Imagine us battling with internet connection but still singing along to Bee Gee’s Stayin’ Alive, Frozen’s Into the Unknown, MYMP’s Kailan, and many other songs included in her album. That was a hilarious night!
Knowing how we have been infected by the Hallyu wave, our next facilitator asked us to dub some of our Kdrama favorites and create scripts that would allow us to rant our feelings for the week.
So try to imagine Captain Ri of Crash Landing on You ranting about quarantine, Moon Gang of It’s Okay not to be Okay complaining about government subsidy, and Kim Shin of Goblin whining about the lockdown.
Unsolicited tip: This is best done in pairs for dialogue. You may use Zoom’s breakout session to give time for each pair to practice.
Surely, there’s a number of cancelled trips because of the pandemic. But if you’re creative enough, you can still travel with friends online! We even made it international!
One fun way to spice up your zoom meeting is to agree on a certain theme. On our fourth and fifth week of Fridates, we agreed to go to South Korea and Thailand. The hosts shared informative input about these countries and even asked us to speak like locals!
Did you know that you can actually play Bingo online? Simply generate cards that your members can use and then maximize Google Random Numbers to draw. The thrill is actually real because of the internet connection and believe me, everyone’s actually competitive without you knowing it.
Who’s not familiar with Bring Me? No one. This is an all-time classic party favorite. But did you know that you can actually play this online? On one of our Fridates, we were tasked to find anything that we can use for a bracelet. Pressured with time, we had to look for whatever that we can find at home. And guess what, it was totally fun to see what each one got through their search.
Unsolicited advice: Once everyone was able to bring whatever is asked of them, let them relate to their life whatever that is that they have brought. Believe me, the wisdom of your friends will get too deep.
If you can’t say it, act it! Charades is another way to make your online meeting livelier. The internet will get crazy with your friends guesses.
Another variation of this is Pictionary, Pinoy Henyo, and Read my Lips.
Online Dinner Date
No need to have a girl/boyfriend to be able to get on a date. Eat together with your friends! On our Fridates, we actually dinner together. If opportunity permits, we agree to have the same dish and share tips on how we prepared our meal (or where we ordered them). On our previous meetings, we had Barbecue Night, Milk Tea Meeting, and Samgyupsal Online!
More than anything else, I hope that your online meetings also give you time not only to talk, but most importantly, to pray for each other. Every week we assign a prayer leader who introduces us various ways of praying.
Once we had a song reflection, then we had a guided Eightfold Path meditation, Bible verse sharing, and Virtual Friendship Bond Prayer. Even a simple prayer for each other will do.
More than anything else, we have to establish our online community in order to support each other these trying times. We have to normalize conversations with regards to mental health because suppressed feelings can lead into anxiety… or worse. Remember that: What you can’t say owns you; what you hide controls you.
Let’s be there for each other! Plan your Fridates with friends now!