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How to Rekindle Friendships After the COVID-19 Pandemic

by Voices Wellness 06 Jul 2021
Photo: Unsplash

Easing back into social activities can feel daunting after a period of heightened isolation. Here’s how you can rekindle your most cherished connections. By SAMANTHA FRANCIS.

When intimate dinner gatherings turn into awkward Zoom parties and overseas road trips together morph into postponed plans, what’s left of our most cherished friendships? If the ongoing pandemic has taken a toll on your personal connections, know that you’re not alone. In an ongoing study by University College London, researchers surveyed more than 70,00 people and found that 22 percent said that the quality of their friendships worsened, after just seven to 30 days of isolation.

In Singapore, social distancing laws as part of the COVID-19 measures have placed limits on activities such as dining, concerts, weddings, and even exercising in gyms. This could mean that we miss out on celebrating certain milestones with our loved ones and creating new shared memories. With working from home becoming the new normal, we may find ourselves feeling more alone than before—without the usual daily banter with our colleagues or the ability to network or bounce ideas off face-to-face. Restrictions on international travel or long periods of quarantine may also put a strain on our long-distance relationships.

As COVID-19 measures start to ease, with fewer community cases in tow, more of us are facing the dilemma of forging friendships post-pandemic. Do we rekindle old connections, replace them with new ones, or repair misunderstandings?

Photo: Unsplash

Here are some tips:

Reach out to the ones who matter

Do you know the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with spending time with good friends? Or the heartfelt joy of sharing a good inside joke? Meaningful connections have been proven to boost our mental and physical health, as well as reduce depression and anxiety. Most of us can probably count on one hand the friends who truly matter, whether it’s because they’ve seen us through our toughest times or that they simply understand us inside out. These are the ones worth reaching out to and checking in with, just to get a sense of what they’ve been going through. Whether it’s a quick text, a phone call, or a surprise food delivery, it’s the thought that means the most.

Evaluate your friendships

Take away the social distancing rules and ask yourself if losing touch with certain friends was because of the pandemic or something else. Take time to evaluate if your friendships are good for your mental health—perhaps it’s time to ditch the acquaintances who drain your energy or the friends whose lifestyle, habits, and views hardly align with yours. When in doubt, consider having a heartfelt conversation with said friend to take stock of whether the both of you should make effort to strengthen the friendship or choose to let it go. While the value of most friendships lies in a long, shared history, they cannot survive on happy memories alone. If they’re not making as much effort as you when it comes to initiating conversations or catch-ups, then perhaps the signs are clear.

Find new ways to keep and make new friends

It’s no surprise that our circles of friends have gotten smaller, with fewer in-person interactions thanks to travel restrictions, e-learning, working from home, and more. With the easing of social distancing rules, it’s time to reach out to good friends and forge new memories. Instead of large gatherings, consider intimate one-to-one sessions with them. If it’s challenging to pick up right where you left off, ease into your social meetups slowly with texting or phone calls. Got friends based overseas? Make future plans to meet in a city so that there’s something concrete to look forward to. Meanwhile, making new friends might seem daunting after a year or two of heightened isolation. Rebuild your social skills by taking part in new hobbies or find interest groups to join, whether in-person or online.

 

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