Being there for friends while social distancing
Being there for friends while social distancing
Friday, 10 July 2020
The spread of Coronavirus has changed life as we know it. Taking things day by day, we are being challenged to accept the uncertainty of the moment.
Focusing on what is within our control will help with stress you may feel right now.
We can, fortunately, control how we maintain our connections and friendships with others. The virus may have made us more aware of our vulnerabilities. However, we have also been able to find new ways to connect and care for the people in our lives. From singing across balconies to neighbourhood volunteer groups, people across the globe are getting creative in finding ways to connect.
Connecting with those we cannot be with
There are lots of fun and creative ways that people have been connecting online: book clubs and table quizzes, getting together online with a cuppa and replicating café chats.
Apps like Zoom, Google hangouts, Netflix Party and Houseparty can make it easy to connect with friends and have some fun. Take a look and see if there are things you could initiate with friends to stay connected. For example
- Collaborate on something creative. For example write a song, a poem or a play.
- Host a pyjama party with friends. Make popcorn and watch a movie together online using Netflix party and Zoom.
- Do an online workout together. It’s always more motivating to have someone alongside us, even if it has to be virtually.
- Send funny videos and memes to friends. You probably don’t need to be told that but mix it up and share articles and videos you find helpful and supportive.
- Complete yoga or mindfulness together. There’s a range of free mindfulness resources available online. Apps such as the Calm app offer a range of free meditations. Keep an eye on our Instagram, some of our clinicians are running relaxation sessions.
- Set up a book club. Services like Audible are giving free trials and have released a range of free titles at the moment. If you’re a member of the library or would like to sign up, you can access books through the Borrow Box app.
- Do a language exchange. There are lots of language apps that allow you to connect with and talk directly with native speakers. There’s no better way to learn a new language, and maybe you’ll make a new friend at the same time.
- Join a Facebook group or Instagram community. There are groups online for all kinds of interests. These communities can add to our sense of belonging. Find a topic that peaks your interest and connect with like–minded people for inspiration, learning and idea sharing.
- Set up a karaoke party or lip sync battle over Google hangouts.
- Host an online dinner party. Get together with friends, agree on a recipe, tune in while you’re cooking and sit down to dinner together.
- Set up a study group. Make time to connect with friends and work together on projects or help each other out.
- Run a quiz. Why not set up and run a table quiz for a group of your friends. No cheating allowed!
- Share your skills with friends. Teach friends how to knit, crochet, draw, bake, cook.
Go old school
Send a good old fashioned letter by snail mail. There’s nothing like receiving a handwritten letter to make a person feel special. An Post are helping have sent two freepost blank postcards to all homes in the coming week to encourage us to do this.
Look for ways to help others. Many communities have structures in place for volunteers to send letters to those who are isolating, including the elderly. See if there are ways you could get involved.
Feeling pressure to keep in contact with and look out for a lot of people can be overwhelming. Ask yourself who are the key people in your life that you want to stay connected to? We run the risk of spreading ourselves too thin and not having quality connections with anyone if we are trying to keep in contact with everyone in our lives.
Be with ourselves first
It might seem counter-intuitive but to support our friends and family we need to start by getting in touch with ourselves. Think about how you are feeling and coping. What do you need to better deal with our experience. Think this through and mind yourself. This will go a long way in helping to be a better friend or family member right now.
If you’re concerned for a friend
If we are worried that a friend is struggling, try to take the time to check in with them. Let them know you are worried, and that you will listen and support them as best you can.
It’s wise not to promise that we won’t tell anyone the things that they share with us. This is especially important if a friend says something that makes us concerned for their safety. Be honest with them that we cannot keep that to ourselves and should look to let someone know, preferably an adult they trust.
Although a friend may not thank us in the moment, in time they should see that we acted out of a place of care and love for them. Read more about supporting a friend’s mental health.
It’s OK to share
These are strange times and we are having to adapt quickly. As with many difficult things in life, it is often our relationships that help us through. It’s OK to be feeling sad, anxious and stressed. We don’t have to keep that to ourselves. Reach out to the people in your life and share in whatever way you can.
Over the coming weeks there will be times when we will listen and times when we will need to be listened to. But hopefully there will also be times of fun, laughter and silliness as we create new and different kinds of memories with the people we love.
Hopefully we can navigate through this time and come out the other side more aware of and grateful for the people in our lives. That first touch, kiss or hug will be all the more precious for the time we have spent apart.