Nurturing our relationships during these tough times is not only good for our social lives, it’s good for our well-being. Meaningful friendships can increase our sense of belonging, boost our happiness, and help us cope with stress. “As we encounter potentially stressful events in our lives, if we know that we’ve got people we can count on or that we can turn to, we may be less likely to even perceive it as stressful,” Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a psychologist at Brigham Young University who has researched the effects of friendship, told Live Science. “But also, let’s say we’re already in the throes of some kind of stressful event, our relationships can also help us cope with it and buffer that reaction to the stress.”
Of course, it’s not always easy to maintain friendships — especially with social distancing mandates in place. Work and home responsibilities can seem like obstacles to staying in touch, but there are ways to stay connected. Technology has made it much easier to keep in touch, and research shows that utilizing certain forms of social media, like video chatting tools, can help us feel less lonely and more connected to the people we care about.
“Sometimes we have those passing thoughts — ‘I wonder how so-and-so is holding up’ — but forget to actually write them and ask,” Sasha Sagan, author of For Small Creatures Such As We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World, tells Thrive. Sagan’s strategy for following through on these thoughts is to “set recurring reminders for myself on my phone to check with them.”
Today, take a moment to try Sagan’s idea — or any of the tips below — to help you stay connected with friends:
Today, make a list of someone to call, text, or FaceTime each day. Allocating a few minutes each day to call them will help you — and them — feel more connected.
Start a group text with friends to stay connected. Science shows there’s power in consistent kinship, even if it’s a simple daily “thinking of you” message.
Once a day, text a voice message to someone you love. Recording your voice adds an extra personal touch in these times when it’s easy to feel disconnected.