Staying connected with loved ones is important for our own mental health, and for the strength of the relationship. But what do you do when your best friend takes a job more than five hours away, or your parents end up retiring outside the great state of Michigan? Have no fear! We came up with ten things you can do to stay close in heart, no matter how far away you are in miles.

1. Have a Virtual Coffee Date

Missing your weekly coffee date with a good friend? Bring the barista experience home! Brew a cup of your favorite coffee or tea and call up a friend on skype, facetime, or zoom. For some extra ambiance, put on some cafe music and light a candle or your fireplace.

If you’re looking to put a new twist on your coffee routine, try out our Michigan-based coffee brand, Keweenaw Coffee. You could even send a pack to your friend, and taste test it together!

2. A Good Old-Fashioned Phone Call

Sometimes nothing beats the classic way of getting in touch: a phone call! This is a great way to set up a quick chat or to connect with friends and family who are a little less tech-savvy. Talk about your day, gossip about that tv show you’re both watching, or even play a game of 20 questions. Sometimes all you need is just to hear their voice.

3. Long Distance Games

You don’t have to be a hardcore gamer to enjoy a video or laptop game with friends! Words with Friends and other multiplayer apps are a great way to keep some friendly competitive spirit going, no matter the distance. You can find tons of video games, from complex multilevel multiplayers to short and simple digital uno on the computer game platform Steam. We also recommend Jackbox games, equal parts creative and hilarious!

Not one for digital gaming? Order a puzzle for you and a friend, and see who can complete it the fastest!

4. Sharpen Your Stationery Skills

Another oldie but a goodie: snail mail. This is a great way to stay in touch and reach out in a way that feels concrete. When you’re feeling out of touch with a loved one, there’s nothing better than getting a physical letter from them in the mail!

Trying to save on postage? Ecards are another great way to let someone know you’re thinking about them. There’s a variety of great ecards out there. Paperless has stylish and free ecards. If your friend has a funny-bone and a taste for the wacky, JibJab is an excellent choice.

5. Start A Virtual Book Club (Or TV Show Club)

There’s a certain joy in experiencing the same plot twists, mystery reveals and exciting moments of a book or tv show at the same time! Why not decide to read a chapter a week of that new book everyone’s talking about? Or watch an episode of a tv show every Saturday night? Then text or call to tell them how devastated you are that they killed off your favorite character (We’re looking at you, George R.R. Martin).

If you like the sound of a book club but don’t know where to start, check out the books section of our online store! We’ve got everything from travel guides on our state to salacious novels on famous Michigander ne’er do wells to the history of Mackinac Bridge. As for the more image-inclined, we promise we have books with lots of pictures in them too.

6. Skype Your Cake and Eat It Too

The smell of freshly baked or cooked food is definitely an excellent de-stressor. Share a recipe with a friend or family member and spread the joy! You can agree to make the same dinner or dessert for a night, then share photos of the results, or even call each other during the process.

For some delicious inspiration, check out our Maple Syrup Cookbook, full of mouth-watering dishes and desserts. How do you make brussel sprouts tasty? Cook them with bacon and maple syrup! Enough said.

(*Image above is a quick photo snapped of one of the pages in the Maple Syrup Cookbook.)

7. Learn Something New

Have you and your friend always wanted to try writing a novel? Want to learn some new knots or card games with your niece or nephew? It’s often easier to follow through on a new skill when you have someone to keep you accountable. Plus, learning is more fun when you have someone to learn with!

There’s an amazing variety of resources available to help you learn new skills online! Youtube is a great source for all types of how-tos and crafts (learn the fisherman’s knot courtesy of the Michigan DNR’s youtube). Skillshare is a great site for those who lean more creative and want to try writing or drawing. Brush up on your french with Duolingo. You could even try your hand at coding with Codeacademy!

If you want to learn a new skill that’s as useful in the great outdoors as it is fun to learn at home, check out our guides on foraging, knot-tying and camping.

8. Share Some Tunes

Learn a little more about your friend’s music tastes and whip up a playlist together! If you both have Spotify, you can create a collaborative playlist. If you’d rather watch music videos, you can make collaborative playlists on youtube too.

If you’re more interested in co-listening than co-creating, check out the Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

(Photo of radio by theslowlane)

9. Create a Vision Board

Is there a trip that you and your friends have been planning for? Maybe you want to get a head start on arranging the big family Thanksgiving dinner. Why not make a pinterest board together? Create a fun theme like: “Road Trip”, “Spring Break” or even “Surprise Birthday Party” and start pinning decorations, recipes, road trip routes and more!

We have a pinterest too! Take a look and give us a follow if you like vintage design, rustic cabins and camping, and quality nostalgia.

10. Go for a Hike or Enjoy Time on the Lake

Take a bit of time out of the day to get moving and take a walk or get out on the water.

Call up your mother while you’re out walking the dog, or facetime a friend to show them the spring flowers blooming on your street. Sometimes the best way to feel connected is to enjoy the simple things in life, together.

No matter how far, there’s always a way to connect with loved ones. Apart doesn’t have to mean alone!

What do you do to stay connected with loved ones? Tell us about it on facebook or instagram with #mipeninsulas!

Tags: DIY