Even though the world has pretty much reopened from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s still having an impact on our social lives. People have gotten used to self-isolating and often feel “out of practice” when it comes to social interactions. Many of us live far away from our friends and are still unable to see them as often as we would like.
It’s tough to want to hang out with your friends and not be able to—after all, there’s no replacement for face-to-face interaction. But there are still ways to lessen the sadness and frustration that comes with missing your friends.
Stay connected—and not just through text.
It’s common to default to texting your friends when you aren’t with them. But when you go weeks without seeing them, texting probably won’t feel like enough. Pick up the phone and give them a call so you can hear their voice instead of just reading a screen.
Some people like video chatting, because although you’re still not together in person, you can at least see their face. But many people are also burned out on video calls at this point. In some ways, talking on the phone can actually feel more intimate and meaningful than a video chat.
Texting is still better than nothing, and it’s a great way to set up other ways of connecting. But be careful with relying too much on social media to fulfill your social needs! Social media can trick us into feeling more connected than we really are—but looking at each other’s posts is not the same as having a conversation.
Put some extra thought into your plans.
When all of your hangouts are virtual, it’s easy to fall into “catching up” for an hour. There’s nothing wrong with just chatting, but if that gets stale, try thinking of something to do together. Video chat while you each bake your favorite dessert. Read the same book and then call each other up to discuss. Teleparty lets you sync up to watch a TV show or movie with friends, and some streaming services are building similar features right into their apps.
Reach out to people you don’t talk to often.
You may miss your closest friends the most, but you’re likely used to socializing with more than just those people. This is especially true if you’re a very extraverted or outgoing person. Reconnecting with a friend from when you were younger is a great way to fill up your social meter. Usually only see your cousins on holidays but always have a blast with them? Schedule a virtual cousin night! Don’t forget about those classmates who you love chatting with in school but don’t hang out with on weekends—you’re probably missing them a bit too!
Make your alone time exciting!
Many of us are guilty of spending too much of our alone time mindlessly watching Netflix or scrolling through social media (or both at the same time). There’s nothing wrong with relaxing—but try some more engaging solo activities too. What are some things you love to do that are possible to do alone? Get some new books, start a puzzle, print out some coloring pages, or find those craft supplies from years ago. It’s a great time to start learning something new, too—use Duolingo to practice a new language, or try a project you saw on YouTube or TikTok.
Feel your feelings.
Acknowledge that this is hard. It’s okay to be sad, angry, lonely, or whatever else you’re feeling right now. Use those emotions to motivate yourself to reach out and connect. Isolation can be painful, but it’s not permanent.
Loneliness can also be related to depression and other mental health conditions. Take one of our mental health tests to give yourself a quick mental health checkup!