• Keeping Friends

Friendship Day: 6 Ways To Stay Connected During the Pandemic

Published: July 29, 2020 | Last Updated: April 5, 2024 By | 2 Replies Continue Reading
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The need to stay connected with friends couldn’t be any greater.

Every year, International Friendship Day is celebrated on July 30th. An outgrowth of a United Nations resolution passed in 2011, the day is designed to encourage governments and organizations to encourage friendships between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is not only a health and economic crisis; it has also provoked a social crisis, one that “we are all in together.” On a macro level, it has pierced the fabric of society, revealing and widening divides—economic, political, and social—between people and countries. 

Closer to home, the physical distancing required to mitigate the virus has taken a toll on relationships with family and friends. In addition, for students and those who typically work outside the home, the pandemic-induced shifts to homeschooling and working remotely have made it more challenging to maintain social relationships with peers and colleagues. Many people feel lonely and isolated.

6 Tips to stay connected during the pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic is a shared trauma that people will remember for the rest of their lives. When people live through a powerful and (distressing) experience like this, it has the potential to either fray or deepen friendships. 

Because of the importance of friendships to our physical and emotional health, we need to find ways to turn adversity into opportunity and strengthen our friendships. 

What day could be more apt to think about that than today, Friendship Day? Well, really, any day will do!

1- Take the initiative

Don’t stand on ceremony waiting for a friend to contact you. Recognize that friendship is part of self-care. Set aside time for reaching out to friends. 

Under ordinary circumstances, opportunities to stay connected tend to occur more naturally. Perhaps, you’ll meet in town, at work, at the gym or at lunch. Now, you need to make an extra effort to remain connected with other people.

And if your attempts at outreach get rejected, don’t take it personally. Try it again: Find another way at another time, or seek out another person .

2- Stay connected and make it regular

Yes, it’s nice to contact a friend for a one-time catch-up call or text: “How are you doing? Let’s talk again (said very vaguely)” And then it’s over. But friendships, even good ones, need to be nurtured regularly.

Although it’s prudent to maintain physical distance right now, friends don’t have to be socially distant. Make an effort on a regular basis to stay connected with friends and neighbors, who have more in common with you now than they did before.  

Recognize that some people have more time at hand than others because of obligations to work, family or other friends, and also, that people tend to prefer different modes of communication. You may be a phone person and your friend may be a text person. Your friend may work at home and only want to socialize evenings. You may prefer video chats but your friend may be zoomed-out from work-related meetings.

Don’t let these become obstacles that get in the way of your relationship. If it doesn’t occur naturally, open a discussion about how, how often, and when it’s best to stay in touch on a regular basis. Discuss your mutual preferences and find common ground, which may entail compromise.

3 – If it feels right, figure out a safe way to get together

If your health status permits, your community transmission rates are low, and you find that you really need to be with other people, identify an individual whom you trust, who places the same value on their health and safety as you do. 

Perhaps, you can plan to meet at a park or trail, mask up, and enjoy the outdoors together or eat on a patio at a socially-distanced restaurant?

Some people prefer to have exclusive relationships with friends, sometimes called “social bubbles,” with whom they can practice “safe friendship.”

How will you know whom to include in your social bubble? Here are a few questions to ponder:

  • Do they regularly wear masks (and not just over their chin)?
  • Do they maintain social distance?
  • Are they compulsive hand-washers? 
  • Do they avoid public places, especially crowded ones? 
  • Do they tend to interact with strangers? 
  • And, perhaps, most importantly, are they people with whom you would like to be with enough to take a risk to your health?

Once you identify your ilk (either an individual or small group), find out if they want to commit to being in a social bubble that will allow you to meet in person. You’ll also want to agree on maintaining certain rules when you are apart so that you can feel safe being together again.

4- Find or create a mutual support group, virtually

The Internet is filled with groups that coalesce because their members have mutual needs and/or interests. These include groups of people who have the same health issues, emotional problems, travel or sports interests, or even share being COVID survivors.

In his recently released book, Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World,” former surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy wrote about the Japanese tradition of forming a moai or social support group. These groups agree to have regular meetings to discuss their lives and figure out ways to support each other. How apropos during extraordinary times like these. These groups can meet virtually, on a video chat, or in someone’s backyard (socially distanced, of course). 

Many people use the website, Meetup.com, to find affinity groups.

5 – Share an experience 

During a pandemic, people find that there’s not that much to talk about with friends because their lives are so constricted. Each day seems similar to the day before. 

Reading the same book at the same time, or watching the same movie or TV series (I highly recommend Detective Montalbano) can stimulate conversations about people, places and culture. They also can be a natural springboard for conversations that include expressing feelings. 

Being in a regular Zoom book club might foster connections and give isolated participants something to look forward to each week.  

6 – Perform a kind gesture

Why not find ways to brighten up a friend’s day and tell them you care about them by sending a small gift that says “I’m thinking of you”? It might be a book or a favorite recipe, or flowers or chocolates on a birthday or anniversary. If your friend is having a hard time right now, perhaps you can figure out a creative way to lighten that person’s load.

Yes, these are tough times. Hopefully, when the virus is contained, we will be able to reminisce with our friends about how our friendships survived, how we were able to stay connected, and how our friendships became even stronger.

On Next Avenue: 10 Zoom-Free Ways To Nurture Friendships During the Pandemic


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  1. sheryl kraft says:

    I can’t wait to hug my friends in person. But in the meantime, we are staying connected via Zoom, face time, email, texts and phone calls. And I need them now more than ever! I am so grateful for good friends 🙂

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