Nurturing Relationships During a Pandemic
Less than a year ago, we were used to seeing our friends, classmates, and coworkers regularly during our day, at the store, at social gatherings, and on lunch break. Now, over the last nine months, most of our relationships exist strictly in the virtual realm. We have lost our familiar ways of spending time with others. For me, this was most apparent as I began my journey as a last semester college student – through the virtual realm of classes, an internship with LLPR, graduation and in two weeks, a new job – all with minimal human contact. We have had to alter every aspect of our lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While 2021 may bring some hope, our ways of connecting most likely will not return to what we were used to pre-pandemic. Here are some tips and practices that I’ve found helpful to nurture relationships during these times:
Make more time: Many relationships may have become distanced because of the actual distance we have to keep, so it is important to schedule time to reach out. There are many virtual ways to connect, such as a Zoom lunch break or happy hour with friends. When the weather is nice, a socially distanced walk has many emotional and physical benefits. It is important to remember that the people we live with are just one form of our support system and keeping that system broad by engaging those you used to see frequently is essential.
Help those less confident with technology: When the pandemic hit, we dove into technology without understanding the drawbacks or risks that come with it. Those who weren't tech-savvy before the pandemic struggled with adjusting to the virtual world we quickly entered. If you have a friend or family member who doesn't feel comfortable with technology, send them resources, or help walk them through ways to access technology. Technology was not new to me, but I had to introduce Zoom to my parents and grandparents so they could see their friends and family during this time of virtual connection.
Make the best use of the physical space you have: It has been challenging to turn our homes into places we work, exercise, sleep, eat, and live 24/7. Try your best to set guidelines and practices that make your home feel like a safe space. Not working from bed, exercising in your backyard rather than your living room, working only in a specific part of your home are ways that we can separate our work from our home/quarantine life.
Support the emotional needs of those at home: For some, staying home is not an option; it is a necessity. Demonstrating kindness to those stuck at home is something we can all implement into our week. Offer support to those inside and outside of your bubble who may be struggling with sheltering in place. Be supportive at home and check up on friends to gauge their needs and participate in active listening. Asking questions and helping people validate their emotions are all ways we can let our loved ones know they are not alone.
Take care of yourself: These times are filled with anxiety, worry, and the unknown, so it's important to take care of yourself. Every day the news gives us something we don't want to hear, and our daily life battles are still happening. Self-care is essential. Give yourself patience, love every day, move your body, say no when you need to, and check-in with yourself daily to stay connected to your mind and body.
Being a good friend and partner can be difficult, especially amid a pandemic. We will not be perfect every day but understanding how to open an honest dialogue about our emotions, being an active listener, and recognizing the importance of taking care of ourselves can help us with relationships in all aspects of our life. Take it one day at a time, and let your loved ones know that we are all in this together!