The pandemic has created a significant impact on everyone’s day-to-day lives. Disruption to routine, concerns about health, and economic worries have all caused people to experience acute stress. As for the strain on interpersonal relationships, people have found positive, adaptive ways to bridge gaps and seek out meaningful support from one another.
1. Reinforce One-on-One and Group Relationships
Isolation for a long period of time isn’t good for anyone. The pandemic has made people spend a significant amount of time by themselves. For many at-risk individuals, it meant they had to avoid contact with the people whom they are close with.
Both healthy and at-risk individuals continue to follow careful distancing protocols. Being in a large crowd can be worrying, so people are not socializing in the same ways they used to.
While it’s best for people to avoid group settings for their physical health, the lack of group environments is problematic for emotional wellness. Fortunately, groups have been able to use innovative ways to preserve the group-based relationships that are important to them.
Reinforcing the ties that bind group friendships has been beneficial for a lot of people over the course of the pandemic. Checking in with loved ones through video calls or going to a virtual happy hour to catch up with friends has made it possible for people to stay engaged with key support networks.
2. Use Social Media Positively
While spending more time by themselves, many social media users began spending a greater amount of time focused on various platforms. Though a moderate amount of social media time is a stimulating way for people to touch base and find community, too much time on it can distort communication.
Social media users tend to say things to each other that they wouldn’t say in real life. They also project a different image of themselves. By having more removed interactions on social media, it’s understandable that many people felt more isolated or even alienated.
Positive use of social media, however, has proven to be a resource for support during the pandemic. People have used social media to offer one another reassurance, start topical discussion groups, and create awareness about important causes.
3. Don’t Shy Away From Conversational Challenges
Being in a wholly new situation that bears on people’s ability to keep themselves safe tends to cause a type of short-circuit in their decision-making and problem-solving. Their instinct for self-preservation tells them to search their brains for the right thing to do. However, they have never been in a pandemic before. Their brains didn’t have any of the information based on past experience and couldn’t produce the answers that they were looking for.
Not being able to fulfill a basic query in your brain jumbles the way you process other queries. Sometimes this occurs even when you do have the information you need. Your thought process is very patterned, so the brain will repeat misfires in the way that it transmits signals.
People commonly found that conversations became more strained because part of their train of thought got a little haywired. They can’t conjure up their information in mental files about friends or colleagues. They feel less sure about the right thing to say, particularly when they are discussing topics related to the pandemic.
Accept that you will encounter and probably create some level of awkwardness in conversations. Simply make an extra effort to be patient with people and yourself. Take your time and know that you’ll find your words instead of worrying about getting stuck. Whenever you’re feeling inarticulate or having a hard time expressing yourself, remember that the most important thing you need to express in any interaction is kindness.
Ultimately, everyone can benefit from making an effort to be there for one another so long as the pandemic continues. Being able to contribute support and positivity to another person’s life makes people feel good about themselves and eager to connect despite challenges.