Friends are a necessary lifeline during hard times. According to author Lydia Denworth, the saying, “life is about survival of the fittest,” should actually be, “life is about survival of the friendliest,” during a pandemic. Our friends are often our top support system when things go badly. Although we are socially distanced, that does not mean our need for friends – new and old – is reduced. We need our social connections more than ever.
Friends can heal us both mentally and physically. Friendship increase our longevity, impacting our cardiovascular system, immune system, and cognitive and emotional health. If you’re feeling socially isolated, this isn’t the time to wait on your friends to call. Be bold and be the first to reach out.
Reconnect with old friends and be open to meeting new ones. Research finds that when we connect with past friends, you gain strength from shared memories. Connecting with new friends of friends expands your friendships and contributes to your health.
Connecting digitally expands your friendships. Almost every platform has meet ups; join a professional group, Bible study, or hobbyist group. If you have an interest in getting to know more people, this is the time.
Get in touch with past acquaintances. Before the pandemic, you may have been too busy to reach out to friends from your last place of employment, childhood, or college. This is the time to reconnect with old friends.
Reach out and befriend those you see regularly. Many of us are seeing neighbors we have never met prior to the pandemic. You may have a favorite grocery store employee or barista who you see weekly. Embrace these people and check on them to let them know you care; that is the first sign of a friend, someone who cares and notices you.
Our lives have become connected overnight because of a crisis. People we once had nothing in common with become comforters, helpers, and reminders that we are in this together. Everyone benefits from having friends, so don’t be afraid to reach out and check on them like you would a friend. We rely on our friends for inspiration, laughter, and a sense of belonging during a very unbalanced time.