We’ve been living in an unprecedented time of isolation. For many of us, this isolation has negatively affected our mental health, but it has also helped many learn more about their relationships with friends and family and what they truly value. I want to emphasize that while we are all weathering the same storm, we aren’t all in the same boat. Everyone has experienced the pandemic differently so the impact on your relationships may vary because of this. However, in this blog I am going to address some of the common trends we have seen in our relationships during COVID-19 and ways you can reconnect with friends and family.
Recognizing Our Support System
Many of us are starting to realize the importance of our support system. Before the pandemic, we regularly interacted with those in our proximity – at the supermarket, park, or school. However, we can no longer take for granted these everyday interactions that sustained our casual friendships. Over the last year, it has become clear that isolation forces us to be more intentional with whom we stay in touch with. The relationships we make the effort to maintain form our support system. And guess what? Some people are realizing that their support system (friends, family, or both) is enough for them.
However, not everyone is fortunate to have a strong support system given our differing circumstances. While some people, especially young adults, have pod friends (friends who interact in-person under agreed upon safety conditions), young or unmarried adults are generally more likely to have less in-person and phone contact than older adults with families. Conversely, while people with families have regular in-person contact within their household, they can feel more isolated from their friends.
So, if you wish to reconnect with friends and family you’ve lost touch with, how can you go about it?
The answer is simple: reach out to them. Send a text such as “I was thinking of you and would love to catch up.” I understand that this is easier said than done. You may find yourself feeling guilt or shame about your lack of communication. That is normal and is the case for many during this period of isolation, so there really is nothing to feel guilty about. What matters is that you are taking a step in the right direction. If this person is someone you want in your support system, make sure to reach out to them on a regular basis. Also, know that it’s normal for friends to come and go throughout your life. If you find that you don’t share the same values as some of your friends, you may want to consider whether it is worth reconciling with them.
Plan Activities Everyone is Comfortable With
After you reach out to your friend or family member, follow through and make plans with them. Communicate with each other what you are comfortable with and plan accordingly. Schedule a phone call or meet up outdoors. Other options could include hosting a virtual game night or movie night. With the internet, there are plenty of possibilities.
Don’t Be Afraid to Be Honest
If you want to rebuild a strong connection, being honest about how you have been and what you might be struggling with can go a long way. People appreciate and value authenticity and they may open up to you as well. Listen and be there for them just as they are for you.