Expanding your social skills during Covid 19

I’m finding that the social and emotional experiences associated with the Covid 19 Stay at Home order are starting to change.  Initially, my clients reported to me a sense of relief: they don’t have to suffer the burden of social contact for 8 hours a day at school or work, they are more relaxed at home, they can be with their pets and get work done on their own timelines.

Now, my clients are starting to feel out of sorts, perhaps even lonely.  Some think they are handling this separation thing “incorrectly” because they feel strange, low energy, out of sorts. They are starting to note that all that social contact at school, while overwhelming, was convenient and low maintenance.  What to do when friendship now requires more work?

  • First, cut yourself some slack. Socializing changed abruptly, and we all have to update our skills (me, too!). We ALL took social contact for granted, and none of us thought about the level of effort required to socialize.
  • Next, make a plan. What type of contact do you want to have, how frequently, and when do you want to start?
    • With whom would you like to connect? Make a list.
    • Type of contact: text, phone call (What?? Who does that??), facetime, zoom, online video games together, virtual D and D…the options seem numerous
    • Frequency: how frequently do you want to have contact with each person? Daily, weekly? You will have different patterns for each person on your list
    • Timeline: when can you put your plan into action?
  • Possible barriers:
    • This is new. You will need to put a different type of effort into friendships.  You might have to initiate contact. This might feel overwhelming. That is ok.    Make a plan.
    • You may not have initiated contact before. Everyone has a 1st time to initiate contact with a friend.  This can be your moment.
    • You might not have their preferred contact info. Suppose you want to text, but you only have a classmate’s email address.  Problem solve: email them, ask for the digits so you can text!  Or, text to set up an online video game time.
    • This is fatiguing.   Acknowledge that, and just engage in the way that you can for today, and try again tomorrow.

Socializing is different right now while we hunker down at home, avoiding Covid 19.  You can update your skills so you can keep in contact with your friends!