“Do you feel like you’ve lost all your friends?”
Somebody posted this question in a group recently, and it hit home. I’ve maintained a lot of relationships during this pandemic year and the isolation it created, but I’ve lost touch with some, some are strained, and even in the best it feels … different.
How do we stay together when we can’t get together? How do we fight the isolation and separation that start to feed on themselves? Can we stay connected — or reconnect?
We can … and we need to. And I have some ideas to share with you.
Who Are You Missing?
You might have an answer to this right away — the family you didn’t see over the holidays, the couple you used to have dinner with every Thursday, your book group (Zoom just isn’t the same), the friend you used to meet up with for coffee.
But I bet there are more people you’re missing. A coworker you used to laugh with even if you didn’t do anything outside of work. Your hairdresser or massage therapist. The friend you used to run into at the library. The barista at the cafe on the corner. The parents you saw at school pick up or soccer games.
Take a minute to make a list of people you miss seeing. They don’t have to play a big role in your life, but they are a part of the fabric of your life, the ordinary part of your day.
Your loss of connection, whether deep or casual, affects you.
So what do you do? You’re Zoomed out. Maybe the weather is yucky and it’s hard to be outside. You long to reconnect, and you can. Let’s get creative.
5+ Ways to Reconnect
You may be feeling completely cut off from people. Or maybe you feel like you’ve managed to maintain connection, but it is feeling strained. Here are some ideas to try.
Write a Letter
If you’ve spent time around me, you know how much I value letters. I love that they are tangible and people can come back to the words again and again. Letters are a great way to build connection.
Want to keep it simple? Write a letter to a friend and share 5 memories. One of my friends told me she’d been doing this regularly and almost as regularly she’s had somebody respond — and reconnect. Try a letter a day challenge for a week and reconnect with 7 people.
Walk and Talk
How’s the weather where you are? For many, this time of year feels isolating anyway, but getting outside for fresh air and movement and any sun there might be feels good. And it’s a great time to connect with a friend. Make a plan with the friend you used to meet for coffee to talk.
Do you live far from your friends? Use your phone. Even when you are paying attention to surroundings, it can be more enjoyable to walk and talk than to sit at home and have the same conversation.
Take a Class with a Friend
An online class can be fun, even if you are tired of Zoom, and if you do it with a friend you’ll see them during the class — and it gives you something shared to talk about afterward. Pick something that intrigues both of you. I’ve found that something that uses your hands — craft or cooking — where you spend some time not staring at the screen, can help you feel better even after one more hour of screentime.
Connect Casually Where You Can
Remember all those people on your list that you would only see in a certain context of your life. Try a two pronged approach here.
Maybe you’re friends on Facebook with the people you saw at school pick up — use Messenger to say “How are you holding up over there?” or if you have the address of somebody you used to see, write a note. In other words, make a small outreach to people you knew “before.”
At the same time, make every connection count. Ask your neighbor if they need anything when you see them outside or on your way to the store. Say hi to people you see when you’re walking. Sometimes people won’t respond. Sometimes they will. They probably need more connection too.
Mix It Up
We have so many ways to connect, even now. If you’ve been doubling down on one effort, try something different. Just doing something different can be uplifting and bring freshness to your connections. Here are a few ideas I’ve gathered from other people:
- Messenger 5 people from your Facebook friend list to ask what’s great right now, what’s hard?
- Email 20 friends to tell them what life is like where you are (what’s the weather like, are kids back in school, what is bringing you joy in this moment?) Tell them you’d love to know what’s happening in their world.
- Text a friend you haven’t talked to in a while.
- Have an online game night with family from afar.
- Start a Voxer book group — or just a conversation — with a group of friends.
- Stand outside and greet everyone who goes by.
- Send a surprise care package.
- DM somebody when their Instagram post makes you smile
- Host a movie night where everyone watches the same movie from home and you chat in a shared conversation.
- Ask for help (something somebody can do for you or advice on a situation) through whatever channel you choose.
What unique ways have you been connecting? How are you going to try to connect? (You can always email me … I’d love to connect and hear YOUR ideas.)
Letters help you express just how much you care for the people in your life, even yourself. If you aren’t sure where to start, I invite you to grab a copy of Deepening Connections with Letters where I show you how to craft one from the heart.