How to keep friendships and stay happy while we social distance

Friendships and community are so vital to our health and happiness and it can be difficult to see how we can interact when we have been asked to self-isolate.

Human beings are naturally social creatures and our levels of happiness are interwoven with the connections we make and the people we interact with on a daily basis. So, it’s not surprising that some of us may feel a little daunted at the moment as we may be cut off from family members and work colleagues.

As its International Happiness Day, we take a look at how relationships and social interaction can still be a part of our life, whether it is by online or just a phone call to a relative.

Friendships can help you live longer

And it’s easy to see why. Friends can help relieve stress, which as we know can be toxic to our health. They can provide emotional, practical or even financial support that can take the strain off difficult situations and also provide a welcome distraction when certain things are playing on our mind.

Communicating has often been taken over by a series of quick text messages when picking up the phone will provide a far more rewarding conversation and opportunity to really catch up and discover how your friend really is. You’ll probably find that elderly relatives prefer this method of contact too. A real voice is better than a text and where you can try to video message. Help others where possible and let them know how much you care about them; it can mean so much during a period of isolation.

Support can take a variety of forms. It might be dropping something off for them or information on how to deal with a particular problem. It may also be emotional support to see how your friend or family member is coping.

Friends can be great role models

Having people who are a positive influence in our lives can help us become better people and inspire us to reach our goals. Befriending someone who is very different to the people you’d normally encounter can give you a different perspective on life. When it comes to work, relationships or life advice, having friends with a diverse range of opinions to call on can prove useful.

Communities can give us purpose

Being part of a community can give you a ‘role’ to play in helping to maintain it. Your strengths can be someone else’s weaknesses and vice-versa, so working together can help you achieve common goals more easily. It’s naturally best to see people ‘in real time’, away from distractions and online devices. However, we’re not in a position to do this at the moment so the next best way to interact in groups is through online communities. It doesn’t have to be with a large number of people.

You might just connect with one friend to do a yoga work out together using Facetime or join in a group chat on Facebook live. Joining together in a project gives you a feeling of being part of something bigger and a great self-esteem boost, which is key to our general wellbeing.

Remember that we are all in it together and keeping connected will help each and every one of us.