I remember during the first few weeks of quarantine when group FaceTimes, Zoom happy hours and Google Hangout gatherings were an almost daily routine. With the additional time at home, it was fun to catch up with different groups of friends from various parts of the country that I didn’t necessarily have the time to connect with prior to the pandemic.
Now as we head into our eight month of quarantine, it seems like everyone is feeling a little tired of all of the random virtual reunions. The invites to meet-ups and happy hours stopped almost as quickly as they started and some people found themselves secretly begging their friends never to have them again. Let’s face it, with everything going on in the world, having another task to complete–even if it was a simple as a virtual meet up–seemed draining and many people just didn’t have the energy anymore to have another virtual conversation over fake drinks.
It seems that now as we head into the holidays, most people have only been able to muster up enough energy to remain connected to their closest friends and family– the ones they typically talk to daily anyway–while they struggle to maintain their other relationships. These relationships aren’t necessarily over, however it’s more as if they’ve just been placed on pause for the time being while we all attempt reconcile with these huge life changes.
If this feeling is relatable and you find yourself feeling more drained and abnormal than social, that feeling is totally normal. In fact, UC Davis Health psychologist Kaye Hermanson said that feeling of abnormality is actually becoming our new normal. “We have unknowns in every part of our lives,” she said. “At the same time, a lot of the things we generally do to cope, the things we enjoy and that give life meaning, have changed or been put off limits.”
The unknowns that we’re experiencing can absolutely cause more stress in our lives. After those initial feelings of community bonding wore off around our second or third month of quarantine, we’ve all started to wear thin as the difficulties continue to build. As Dr. Hermanson continued, “We lose our optimism and start to have negative or angry reactions. We ask, ‘What are they doing to fix this? How long will this last?’”
So, how do we cope? According to Dr. Hermanson we can help ourselves with a few easy tips that can be done right at home:
- Exercise: “Any exercise – even a simple walk – helps. It releases endorphins, gets some of the adrenaline out when the frustration builds up. Just getting out and moving can be really helpful for people,” Dr. Hermanson said.
- Talking: “Ignoring feelings doesn’t make them go away. It’s like trying to hold a beachball underwater – eventually you lose control and it pops out. You can’t control where it goes or who it hits,” she explained.
- Constructive thinking: “We can’t change the situation, but we can adjust our thinking,” Dr. Hermanson said. “Be compassionate with yourself and others. Remind yourself, ‘I’m doing the best I can.’”
- Mindfulness and gratitude: “Try being in the moment. You’re right here, in this chair, breathing and looking around. We put ourselves through a lot of unnecessary misery projecting into the future or ruminating about the past. For now, just take life day by day,” she concluded.With so much going on, it’s totally understandable if people only have the capacity to communicate with those they feel closest to during this time while placing some other relationships on hold until they have the energy to maintain them. In the meantime, practicing some of the coping skills might help us overcome some of the outside stressors that we can control and might give us enough energy to be ready to be social again, when the time is right.
How are you maintaining or not maintaining your friendships during quarantine?