by Bill Overton, Ed.D., WholeChildEductionalServices.com

People inherently need several things at least on an occasional basis. They need social connections of different kinds, some of these being private and confidential. With these they need strategies for navigating the social milieu as well as how to maintain their own sense of efficacy and well-being. They need reasons to be optimistic. They need novelty and humor, including different forms of play. And they need a sense of purpose in their lives.

GOAL:  The Goal here is to empower people to see a way “out” of the COVID fog & build optimism by giving many brief ideas or strategies to try.

IDEAS: Here are some ideas, especially for adolescents, on how you might interact & connect socially, as ‘normally’ as possible (Note: adolescents especially need private & confidential social time).

– Create Community, Together

  • Private conversation times, with agreement and commitment by parents
  • Scavenger hunts: https://www.scavify.com/blog/virtual-scavenger-hunt
  • Do formal dress-up (prom-ish)
  • Costume ‘get-togethers’
  • Plan a party
  • Themed sessions, ie “Cocktail Hours”, or “Tea Times” (to be modified for kids, of course)
  • Hold a formal English tea:
  • Find humorous examples of cartoons, stories, or the like
  • Playing board games online
  • Play online chess, checkers, backgammon, poker and more
  • Have a Chess tournament; influenced by the movie,   “Queen’s Gambit”
  • Exercise together: take turns leading
  • Play school:  teach a real/fictional/hypothetical lesson or something that is an interest of yours to the others on zoom
  • Share music, ex: ‘Vinyl Fridays’
  • Find humorous examples of cartoons, stories, or the like; take turns sharing them; have one a day, like a vitamin, OR find one and have you and your friends each write their own caption
  • Plan a celebration for when COVIDs is over!
  • Plan/do community service projects; WE.org is a good resource for this
  • Write, present speeches for political office or student council (hypothetical or real)
  • Book groups, CD groups
  • Film festivals: choose a movie for everyone to watch independently. Then, gather on zoom and talk about them, maybe even rate them with a thumbs up or down.
  • Have a virtual picnic in your backyard or living room or do a virtual camping experience
  • Write and share poetry; use a variety of different forms or templates
  • Create and present lip-sync contests or performances
  • Do an art project of some kind then share it (have a virtual art gallery)
  • Individually create a film depicting your inner feelings or experiences and then share it as a part of a film festival
  • Travel virtually with a friend somewhere (be sure to plan it first)
  • Do an art project of some kind, then share it (have a virtual art gallery)
  • Individually create a film depicting your inner feelings or experiences and then share it as a part of a film festival
  • Find ways to encourage student voices: (watch this on YouTube)

Building meaningful & emotional connections

  • Write in journals, then connect and share entries
  • Book groups
  • Meet in small groups and discuss EQ topics on a regular basis (facilitated by experts; Deborah Jacroux?)
  • Cooperative writing; each member starts a story then after a designated stopping point or time, passes it on to the next person
  • Write one’s life story or one anecdote, in first person or third
  • Work through David Burns activity books: 
    • Feeling Great: The Revolutionary New Treatment for Depression and Anxiety
  • Individually create a film depicting your inner feelings or experiences and then share it as a part of a film festival

Relieve Anxiety
(Josh Freedman, 6Seconds.org did 20 minutes on this one: youtube.com/watch?v=1j7WgD8-yzA)

  • Take up some form of art
  • Individually create a film depicting your inner feelings or experiences and then share it as a part of a film festival
  • Do some form of play, individual or with others, for a predetermined amount of time
  • Travel virtually somewhere; watching travel shows, videos, eat the food, listen to the music
  • Learn to play an instrument
  • Try a David Burns Thought Record: https://positivepsychology.com/wp-content/uploads/Automatic-Thought-Record.pdf

– Relieve Depression: one of the leading causes of depression is a feeling of isolation and loneliness; a second is a negative sense of self (also see     creating communities & building connections above)

  • Find a partner to be able to share with, meet regularly
  • Have lunch together, providing your own lunch
  • Do an art project expressing your present feelings and thoughts
  • Do something active:
    • clean and reorganize some part of your home or yard
    • run around the block
    • jump rope
    • garden
    • do yoga with online leadership
  • Every morning, draw how you’re feeling and then throw it away
  • Pursue a new hobby or interest
  • Individually create a film depicting your inner feelings or experiences and then share it as a part of a film festival with yourself or others
  • Take yourself on a virtual trip somewhere
  • Find humorous examples of cartoons, stories, or the like
  • Try a David Burns Thought Record: https://positivepsychology.com/wp-content/uploads/Automatic-Thought-Record.pdf

– Ease Tension at Home

  • Play in some form, individually (ie legos, puzzles, reading for enjoyment, reading,…)
  • Together (ie legos, puzzles, madlibs,…)
  • Do an art project before discussing any home issues
  • Establish a routine with a clear and accepted vision of what it’d look and sound like
  • Read aloud to each other
  • Bring in some form of humor (riddles, limericks, jokes, madlibs, cartoons (Gary Larson, movies)
  • Do something active, alone or with family members
  • Go on a virtual family vacation (you can even go on a world tour going everywhere family members want to go) (keep track of hypothetical costs, ie hotel, food, flights,…)

– Reduce Addictions

– Replace Self-medication

Mood Boosters: More Ideas for Connection

by Deborah Havert, MLK, Jr. Scholarship Researcher, Author, EQ Consultant

  • Brene’ Brown, a research professor from the University of Houston has a quote, ”One day you’ll tell your story of how you overcame what you went through and it will be someone else’s survival guide.” Have a discussion about what you think she is saying.
  • Create a Quiz: For your zoom group, create a trivia quiz for each time you meet. Responsibility for the creation of the quiz is figured out each meeting for the next time you meet.
  • Learn about You: Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, world-renowned researcher has a fun 2-minute quiz to see how positive you are. www.PositivityRatio.com
  • Redesign your bedroom. With permission from your parents, come up with a new way of arranging items in your bedroom, so it seems fresh and new.


  • Exercise Together: Each member of your zoom group makes an exercise video which they share with the group. You can include your favorite music and exercises.
  • Make care packages for your friends or neighbors. Gather together items that you think they would like and drop them off at the front of their homes.
  • Have a pajama party! You can add a theme, food, and games.
  • Teach your parents how to use Instagram, Twitter or TikTok.
  • Create a cooking show online for your family and friends. Figure out a favorite recipe and share the preparation on zoom. Guest chefs could be next.
  • Teach friends and family how to tie-dye. Gather up all of the supplies and do a zoom call to teach them.
  • Make a comical video about the life skills you think are important. The funnier, the better. Then your parents and other family members could make their own life skills video. Have a zoom party and share them.
  • Write gratitude cards and letters to nurses, doctors and others who are caring for COVID patients in the hospital.
  • Write Your Own Children’s Book: Think about what lessons you could teach young children about friendship, kindness, inclusion, etc. Then start the process of gathering material for your book and writing it!
  • The Artist Within: Gather materials such as paper, paints, clay, and other art supplies and create art that displays how you are feeling. Invite family members to join in the fun.
  • Have each member of your family join in to create a family song. Musical instruments will be helpful in this project. Then present the family on zoom to extended family.
  • The Gift of Song or Poem: Create a song as a gift for a friend or create a song to share with family members who especially feeling isolated.
  • Figure out what expertise you have. Create a presentation sharing that expertise with your family or friends. Then the other group members do the same.
  • Family Concert! Each member of the family joins in with an instrument or a voice to present a concert. Share the concert with extended family or with friends.
  • Dine In a Different Country: Each week figure out a country you would like to highlight on one of the days of week. Decorate the table pretending you are in the country highlighted and cook the foods of the country.
  • Movie Night: Figure out a night that works well for everyone in the family and choose the movie(s)  of the night. Pop the popcorn, get the beverages, and enjoy movie.
  • Chili cook-off. Each member of the family gets a chance to cook their own chili recipe and then one member of the family makes the choice of “best chili.”