Although some might have had issues making friends in the past, the coronavirus pandemic made the efforts incredibly difficult for most. As we’re forced to follow social distancing guidelines or even completely isolate ourselves at home amidst COVID-19, meeting new people and maintaining old friendships instantly became a more complex experience.
However, keeping your friendships strong is incredibly important for your mental and physical health, especially during such a lonely time as the pandemic. To that end, here are some ways you could nurture your socially-distanced relationships, as well as reasons why these efforts are so essential:
The importance of friendships
Even though friendships are often among the relationships that get the least amount of attention, they are incredibly important for our physical and mental well-being. Friends tend to offer necessary emotional support and allow us to build self-esteem through love and encouragement, while making us happier and more content individuals overall.
What’s more, nurturing friendships can have a positive impact on our physical health as well, by giving us the opportunity to decrease stress levels, and encourage healthier daily behaviors, whether that means promoting physical activity or inspiring us to achieve our goals.
However, during the coronavirus pandemic, most of us were forced into social isolation, which led to feelings of sadness and loneliness. Apart from being a generally unfamiliar and uncomfortable situation, such isolation can also be linked to serious health issues like substance abuse, heart disease, and high blood pressure. That is exactly why keeping our friendships healthy and strong is incredibly important, especially during such as uncertain time as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Making and maintaining friendships
As we live in a technology-oriented world where everything we could ask for is available at our fingertips, it has truly never been easier to stay in touch with friends and family than it is now. From text-based to image-sharing and video-chatting social media platforms, we are able to maintain our closest relationship in more ways than one, even during the pandemic, when social interactions have been reduced to a minimum.
However, it can often seem as if the most popular social media platforms have been specifically catered to a younger audience and their interests, often leaving older generations feeling uncomfortable and apprehensive about using these outlets. If this is the case with you as well, you might want to consider joining a great mature-age social group such as Stitch, which is an ideal option for anyone over the age of 50.
This platform will allow you to find new friends and companions of similar age and interests to share activities with, and even build a great, supportive community to help battle loneliness and isolation.
What to consider when meeting friends
One of the most important things to consider when attempting to make friends is what you truly need to gain from that relationship. For instance, if you need to have shared morals, values, and beliefs in order to develop a friendship, such people might be easier to find in activist-oriented spaces. In case you require shared hobbies and interests, on the other hand, then it might be best to seek friendships in local groups, clubs, or other areas you personally enjoy.
When meeting new friends, it’s also important to remember these new relationships require consent from everyone involved, and that it might take some time to develop closeness and trust. Although it can seem counterintuitive, directly asking a person whether they would like to be friends can be of great benefit, as it clearly shows your intentions, while allowing the other person to instantly accept the new friendship.
Staying safe during the pandemic
While online interactions are the safest option during the coronavirus pandemic, they might not always be the right choice for everyone. The issue might be the lack of technology and internet access, or simply the need to meet and interact with others in real life in an effort to form a meaningful bond. If that is the case with you, keep in mind that meetings aren’t out of the question, as long as you prioritize health and safety.
If you live in an area where socializing is currently allowed, apart from ensuring you wear protective face masks at all times, you could also schedule meetings that allow for social distancing, such as walks or cycling in nature, single-player sports with an opponent, or any other interesting activity that allows you to have fun while keeping a safe distance.
The coronavirus pandemic has certainly brought plenty of unique challenges, including how you make and maintain friendships, but the positive influence of staying connected with others throughout this time is clearly worth the effort.