In a recent story in TODAY, Connecticut couple Niro and Ed Felician share about a small ritual that’s allowed them to stay connected during the pandemic: prioritizing a morning walk together. Especially now, when so many of us are spending so much time on our devices, the couple explains how the tech-free morning habit allows them to unplug and be present with one another before starting the day. And most importantly, it helps them deepen their relationship in an intentional, meaningful way. 

We asked our Thrive community to share with us a ritual that keeps them connected with the people in their lives. Which of these will you try?

Share your small wins with each other

“A close friend and I have started sharing a ‘small win of the day’ with each other each day. We both work from home and live alone, so this little ritual has kept us uplifted and connected. Some days may not feel like they are a big win, but we’ve found each day has at least one small win, especially when we’re on the lookout for it.”

—Cara Planitz-Clatanoff, spiritual guide and founder of Sabia Wisdom, Tucson, AZ

Fill out a gratitude journal together

“I ordered a book called The 5‑Minute Gratitude Journal by Sophia Godkin. On days that when my son has been especially well-behaved, we pick a page at random and fill it out together. Each page starts with a motivational quote, then has a few gratitude questions to answer, and then ends with a positive mantra. I hope to be able to sit down with him years from now and read it together again, so that we can remember the good parts of this pandemic instead of only focusing on the things we missed out on.”

—Jillian Potashnick, boy mom, Las Vegas, NV

Meet up for a weekly walk

“My sister and I are lucky enough to live three blocks away, so we’ve added a weekly walk to our schedules. Adding the 30-minute walking ritual into our weeks has helped us stay connected and provides a needed break from the monotony of the day-to-day. Our dogs love it too, and have become better friends because of it! 

—Kate MacLean, senior PR generalist, Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Schedule virtual dinner dates

“I’m an American mom raising my two kids in France, but my husband lives back in the United States for work. It was clear early on that we needed to establish some to support our bi-continental family life. So, every day at 6:00 pm, the babies and I sit down for dinner and my husband sits down to a 12:00 pm lunch, and we eat together via FaceTime! His employees know that it’s his most important ‘meeting,’ and that small, dependable slice of connection makes the distance much more doable.”

—Kelly Newsome Georges, self-care educator and mom coach, France

Read bedtime stories over FaceTime

“My kids have felt stuck at home since the pandemic started and they miss their grandparents. One of the small rituals we have started is having the kids FaceTime their grandparents a few nights each week to read stories together. The kids enjoy picking out books from someone else’s bookshelves, especially old childhood favorites, and it’s a great bonding experience that we are loving.”

—Robyn Goldfarb, M.B.A., blogger

Try an at-home “travel night”

“This year, to make sure that my kids and I spend more meaningful time together, we put together a family vision board where we added five family goals and things we would like to do together. It includes a virtual travel plan, where we pick a country and watch videos about the culture there and then cook a family meal from their cuisine. The little travel night is something we all want to do and it’s been a great way to spend more time together.”

—Armida Markarova, professional coach and conflict resolution mediator, Chicago, IL   

Start a family gift exchange 

“I have started a new ritual with some of my children that helps us slow down and brings us together. Each month, I purchase a small gift for one family member. No one knows who or when they are getting a gift. It is something personal to them that allows the family to gain a little deeper insight about something they enjoy. It’s like having Christmas all year long and the true gift is connection. This month, my daughter is getting a 1,000 piece wooden jigsaw puzzle of the Antwerpen-Centraal Railway Station in Belgium. She has been there with husband and three boys. Assembling the puzzle will bring the memory of their trip fresh and alive.”

—Liam Chrismer, CEO coach, Denver, CO

Dress up for an at-home date night

“With so many restaurants closed due to the pandemic, my husband and I have started a Friday night date night. It is not unique,  but when we rarely need to wear real clothes or venture further than for groceries or essentials, we make an effort this night. We get dressed, pull out a nice bottle of wine, and order from one of our favorite restaurants. Sometimes we have to pick up the food from the restaurant which, rather than a burden, gives the evening an added ‘going out’ element. We love supporting our local restaurants, and these nights have given my husband and me meaningful time together. Date nights allow us to sit down together with a meal in front of us that we didn’t have to prepare, and mark the end of another week together. It’s a time when we connect to each other and the restaurants to which we so long to return.”

—Shellie Suter, life coach, Toronto, ON, Canada

Take breaks to recharge together

“My husband and I take a non-negotiable 10-minute break together every evening, no matter what we are doing. We stop and connect. It’s created massive depth in our relationship, and I’ve started doing the same with my teenage son, who takes his 10 minutes of full attention and conversation every day after school!”

—Jennifer Triger, Waltham, MA

Have dinner as a family

“A ritual that has helped me stay connected is sharing a meal. Growing up, my family always ate dinner together, and it’s one of the traditions I’ve kept as an adult. Meal time is the glue that holds our family together through life’s cycles. We make it a ritual by preparing food together, sharing our day with each other, talking about current events and future plans, and leaving our phones in another room so not to be interrupted during this time. The important thing is that we’re together for that one hour, or half-hour some days, and reconnect before continuing or ending our days.”

—Mary Kolar-DeNunzio, non-profit professional, Shaker Heights, OH

What’s one ritual that helps you strengthen your connections? Share it with us in the comments!

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  • Marina Khidekel

    Chief Content Officer at Thrive

    Marina leads strategy, ideation and execution of Thrive's content company-wide, including cross-platform brand partnership and content marketing campaigns, curricula, and the voice of the Thrive platform. She's the author of Thrive's first book, Your Time to Thrive. In her role, Marina brings Thrive's audience actionable, science-backed tips for reducing stress and improving their physical and mental well-being, and shares those insights on panels and in national outlets like NBC's TODAY. Previously, Marina held senior editorial roles at Women's Health, Cosmopolitan, and Glamour, where she edited award-winning health and mental health features and spearheaded the campaigns and partnerships around them.