As social beings who crave human interaction, it’s clear that living through a global pandemic has taken a severe toll on our personal well-being and mental health. Stress surrounding factors such as job security, health concerns, and a general feeling of uncertainty have caused many of us to become more insular and neglect our relationships with even our closest friends.
Although a necessity, social distancing precautions have led to an increase in both isolation and a general feeling of loneliness especially among extroverts and socialites. Mental strain caused by anxiety can lead to a number of health concerns and even shorten the lifespan of people in some cases.
On the upside, more and more people are getting vaccinated and being reintroduced to a new normal. As such, the time for reconnecting with friends, family, and loved ones has never been more vital. We take a look at a few approaches to bridging the social gap and rekindling relationships beyond Covid-19.
One – Take the initiative – Reach out
While plenty of friendships may initially form as organic interactions, maintaining that friendship requires actual effort and reciprocation. Being a functional part of your friend’s life is vital to keeping the relationship healthy so be proactive and take the first step to reconnect with them.
Even something as simple as a short WhatsApp message telling your friends you’re thinking of them or reminiscing on a fun memory the two of you shared, is all it takes to rekindle old friendships. The truth is, the people we care about aren’t avoiding us, they’re just caught up in their own situation and will more than likely respond positively to your message.
Two – Adopt a positive external perception of yourself
In other words, assume that people like you by default. One of the hardest things about maintaining a friendship is knowing exactly where we stand with one another. Our perception of the way our friends see us is often only based on an internal process.
People with higher anxiety levels might think that if someone doesn’t contact them that they must have a negative view of the relationship. This is not only unhealthy but can often lead to miscommunication and is often a self-fulfilling prophecy that leads to distrust. Before making an attempt at reaching out, ensure that you adopt a positive mindset. It’s more likely the case that your friends indeed enjoy your company and friendship. They just need to be reminded why.
Three – Start formulating plans
Plan a personal outing at a time and place that you’re both comfortable with. Old habitual meeting spots like coffee shops or even at the local pub can do wonders at rekindling a relationship since there are established memories shared between the two of you.
For newer friendships that lack that sort of rapport, you may consider working through the things that you’re both comfortable doing and then suggest something easy for the two of you like a brisque walk through the local park. Sometimes the best way to establish a strong bond is through playing a sports game or two with each other. A round of golf or a game of tennis goes a long way to establishing camaraderie.
Four – Consider what people are comfortable with
Following from the previous point, when reconnecting with friends or building upon new relationships it’s important to take into consideration what makes other people comfortable. While it may be fun for some to go out and party at the local club, others might be completely put off by the idea.
Basically, not everyone has the same tolerance for what they deem as risk so it’s important to establish boundaries. It may be as simple as asking people upfront what makes them feel uncomfortable, starting off a good conversation in the process.
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Five – Relax and don’t stress if you’re rusty at communicating
The fact that most people’s social lives have been on hold for the past two years means that you shouldn’t feel too bad about being out of practice or feeling slightly awkward in social interactions. The current times are strange and uncertain for us all. Yet as we’re stepping back into the world, we may forget that this is an entirely new normal we’re entering into.
What may have been acceptable two years ago may now be viewed more critically, and as society evolves, so too do the methods we use to engage with one another.
One thing we have to bear in mind is that everyone is going through these trying times together. Our social skills will return as society opens up once more. Some relationships, such as those with work colleagues, may only require you to be face to face with one another for the spark to reignite. Others will take time and commitment as all worthwhile friendships do.
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