Title Card - Maintain Relationships

Proactively Maintaining Social Relationships During A Pandemic

Even when there isn’t a global health crisis, we tend to neglect some of our social relationships when we are buried under our day-to-day routine. For some of us, anxiety plays a large role in determining if we reach out to our friends or family. Sometimes again, it could simply be loneliness that causes us to reach out. Fact of the matter is, as humans, we have always been bad at this, forgetting or avoiding each other since the beginning of time. The irony is that humans are naturally social creatures that thrive on interaction with others.

Most people will try to self-regulate and have as much social interaction as they are comfortable with, but with the social distancing and stay-at-home protocols introduced in a global pandemic, social interaction isn’t as easy or available through the usual channels. In-person social gatherings over a certain size are banned for health and safety, and many social gathering locations, attractions, and events are closed or cancelled for the same reasons. The 2020 / 2021 social lifestyle requires a little bit more effort to find ways to socially interact safely.

Although it’s important to keep up your social interactions at any time, it is even more important to keep up these interactions when they are harder to come by. Even with government restrictions, there are ways that you can safely see friends and family from a distance. It is March at the time of writing this blog, and with the warmer weather comes the opportunity for socially-distanced meetups with one or two friends (assuming your area is not under government-mandated lockdown). With the rise of online video-conferencing, it has never been easier to make a video call to connect with your favourite people. Of course, there has always been the opportunity for gamers to reach out and have a gaming session online.

No matter what method you choose, it is important to get ahead of the curve and beat social isolation caused by pandemics before it has you stuck firmly in its grasp. Many people become depressed after a lack of human interaction, much in the same way people get depressed because they haven’t had enough sun. These deficiencies are sometimes hard to overcome, especially in the middle of winter when there is less sun to go around or in the middle of the pandemic when face-to-face interaction is discouraged. It is important to take the necessary steps to combat these issues by reaching out to people around you. The online space has made it easier than ever for people to meet and discover common interests, and there are plenty of people out there who are in a similar boat to you. Just remember to exercise the same level of caution you normally would when interacting with strangers in the online space, as there are those who do not have the same level of good intention as you.

For myself, I have been very fortunate to have had a group of friends from my university days who meet every Saturday via Zoom call for a few hours to catch up on each other’s weeks and lives. We’ve made it clear that the calls are completely voluntary with no obligation to join them, but they have certainly helped me to have some semblance of regular social activity each week. I highly encourage finding something to add to your routine like this, as it gives you something to look forward to in the short term. I also play the occasional online game with one or two friends, taking an hour or two to enjoy entertainment with a few familiar people. I tend to scroll through my Facebook feed as well, catching up with those who wish to share something funny or entertaining. I have actually started posting more comments than I usually do in an attempt to have a conversation with people that I normally don’t, and it has been giving me some good results so far. Of course, I also just reach out to some people on my own from time to time, just to check in and see how they are doing.

It’s important to find your own social balance and see what you can do to help you feel comfortable in the pandemic. These are not so easy times and it is important to keep mental health at the forefront of your mind at all times, as it is easy to slip into negative patterns of isolation. Take some time, evaluate yourself, and see what you can do to reach out or interact socially (but safely!) during the pandemic: you will likely thank yourself later for doing so!