The loneliness has arrived. People were accustomed to the ease of access of friendships at work and school, and now find that they need to apply some effort to socializing during Covid 19. While that effort can feel off putting at first (why do I have to work so hard to engage socially?! It was easy before!), we can turn this ship around!
Sometimes people then say negative things to themselves, making the situation more stressful. Here are some commonly heard concerns, and some alternate responses:
- I should not have taken the ease of friendship at work/school for granted
- Sure, lots of us took ease of socializing for granted, but who knew?? I’m lucky I already have these friends. I just need to expand my skill set to reconnect.
- It is so hard to socialize. I must be broken.
- I’m lucky it was easy before Covid 19. I have ample free time to ramp up my skills so I can connect with others. Everyone now needs new skills; I’m not alone in socializing differently.
- Socializing online is fatiguing. I don’t think it is worth it.
- You know what, socializing online IS fatiguing. I’ll just engage for shorter periods of time, and more frequently.
While you identify and build the unique skills required to socializing online, here are some handy tips from a popular Speech Language Pathologist, Mallory Griffith.
1) Don’t wait – set a goal for yourself and call or text 2-3 friends/week. The general feedback is that texts (rather than phone calls) are more likely to get responses.
2) In the young adult world, lots of gaming is happening. Set a time limit for yourself and try scheduling a game session with a social contact that you are friends with in real life.
3) Zoom session/FaceTime/group hangouts – if you have a small group you hang out with, try setting up a video platform to see each other at the same time. Rotate who sets it up, so everyone gets invited, and everyone gets to be the host.
4) If you notice you’re feeling lonesome, try setting up a low pressure hangout (might be as simple as playing a game with a sibling).
5) If you’re interested in starting a hobby, find an online group that does it (I’m interested in bird watching, knitting, writing, etc.!). Try several groups until you find your kindred spirits.
Hang in there! Things are changing, slowly… The good news is, you get to keep your new friendship skills forever! Social skills never expire, they just shape shift to meet your developmental (and Covid) needs.