Updated: Nov 18, 2020
Unless you are living under the biggest, most wonderful rock in recorded history, you know that these are not normal times. Tensions are high. You may not have seen your colleagues, classmates, or even your closest friends in months. Many of us have settled into any job we could find just to get the bills paid (if we were lucky enough to find one), some of us have even moved back in with our parents in other states, and almost none of us are doing what we would really like to be doing right now. Heck, we are even binging Gossip Girl reruns to compensate for the lack of new content (or is that just me?!). While we know we are not the only ones that feel this way, that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard.
With all that being said, how can you stay connected to those you care about in this trying time? How can you even try to be a good friend to someone else when you yourself feel down? Here are some tips about how to be a good friend in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Practice grace and empathy.
It’s easy to keep score in friendships. We are all guilty of that at some point or another. But, it’s important to remember to give your friends grace at this time, and hope they are able to give you the same. You may feel like you've been doing the majority of the emotional labor lately, or, on the flip side, you may have left too many texts unanswered. Whatever the circumstance, keep reminding yourself, we are living in unprecedented times. One of the worst things you can do is beat yourself or your bestie up about not responding to that call from a week ago. When you are ready to check in with that friend, you will. And, even if it’s been months, you will pick up where you left off. We all deserve to loosen the expectations of friendship and free ourselves and others of the guilt of what we “should” be doing.
2. Don’t press for answers.
You are worried your friend was furloughed, had to move out of their apartment, or in a really tough emotional situation. It’s kind that you are worried. But, don’t press. When your friend is ready to talk to you, they will. We put a lot of emphasis on the “catch-up” aspect of friendship, the expectation that you are always fully up to date with those closest to you. However, especially now, there is a lot to be said in just being an ear, no strings attached. Your friends may not want to admit to you or even themselves that they are struggling in this time, and speaking about it may only make them feel more self-conscious or stressed. When they are ready to open up, they will. Give them time.
3. Keep a busy social calendar and keep each other on it!
Do you want to see that Bollywood movie you and your friend abroad always said you would watch together? Go to an outdoor yoga class? Take that virtual Bobbi Brown Makeup Masterclass? Planning in advance will give you and your friends something to look forward to regularly. Now is also the time you can be purposeful in re-connecting with people in your life who have slipped through the cracks. Reach out for a reunion call with your high school friends! Have a free Sunday afternoon? See if you can get your dad’s side of the family to all do a ZOOM call together. Since everybody is inside these days, they have more time and motivation, just like you, to reach out and connect with one another. This time may be a blessing in disguise to bring more people into your life than ever before.
I hope these tips helped. Let me know a way that you reached out to a friend lately, and what you did! Did you get creative with your time? Did you practice empathy with each other? However you're doing it- you’re doing great.
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