I’ve been kicking myself recently because I feel like I could use a reminder of how to be a better friend.
I have lots of close friends, and I have barely been in contact with any of them over the past 4 weeks whilst we’ve all been in isolation.
My life has been turned upside down, and I’ve inadvertently cut myself off from the world.
I decided to write this article as a reminder about how to be a good friend during this stressful, worrying and overwhelming time.
7 Ways To Be A Better Friend During The Covid-19 Pandemic
So, considering everyone is busy and distracted, and mental illness is on the rise, how can we work on being a better friend?
When a friend comes to you wanting to emote, express, and release their hurt, what can you offer in the way of support?
Below, find 7 simple, yet soul-satisfyingly meaningful gifts to offer a friend in their time of need.
Be A Better Friend By Listening
What do you do when a friend NEEDS to talk?
One way we can really give to those we care about is to simply put a halt to all distractions.
Agree a good time where you can listen to their words and really hear what they’re saying.
If you’re both comfortable with video calls, you can utilize facetime, zoom or houseparty apps to make the connection a little easier.
Whilst listening, you don’t have to judge, troubleshoot, or problem solve on the fly for them, unless that’s what they specifically ask you to do.
Offering the simple gift of listening is often just what a friend may be searching for.
What is empathy?
It is taking a moment to step into another person’s proverbial shoes, and really try to imagine what it is they may be experiencing and feeling.
I like to think I am quite good at empathizing, and I can always see other people’s sides of the story.
It helps if you have already gone through the same challenge that they’re currently facing. But if not, try to take a moment to try and visualize their situation.
What thoughts would you have?
How might you react emotionally?
If your friend tends to be either more emotional or less emotional than you, but you want to try and connect with how they feel, another way to do it is to flash back to something that may have happened to you that produced the same reaction that they’re having now.
That’s a good way to emotionally connect even if you know that their situation would not affect you in quite the same way.
With more and more people caught up in their own personal involvements these days, it can be difficult to have your reality acknowledged.
But this is what validation is all about, and many of us are running around truly suffering from lack of it.
During the Covid-19 lockdown, I have been very up and down emotionally.
One day I’m high as a kite loving life in the garden with my kids on a Saturday, and then I watch the news and I’m down on the ground and I can’t get up.
But then I think, come on girl, get yourself up. There are so many other people suffering, dealing with the horrible stuff, you’re not entitled to feel these feels.
What is validation?
It’s as though someone is saying YES, I see YOU.
YOU are really here.
YOUR situation is real.
The emotions YOU are feeling are real.
YOU have value and YOU are worth thinking about, talking to, sharing and just being with (albeit over the phone or internet!).
This may really depend on the individual situation and what your friend needs at the moment.
Some people seek out support when they’re specifically wanting validation of their feelings, and to be heard.
They may really not need advice at all. But at other times, or with different friends, advice might just be what the doctor ordered.
You’ll have to feel out the situation and get a sense of whether your well-meaning advice will be appreciated and well received.
But even if it isn’t, you can advise in the form of sharing your own stories.
If you have already faced and persevered through whatever this person is going through, you can offer up your own story, for said friend to take or leave the kernel of wisdom that you impart.
A friend who’s feeling in need of support would certainly warm to some encouragement.
This is a very simple but meaningful thing that you can give while showing empathy and concern for another’s troubles.
Positive statements such as “You can do it,” “You’ll get through this,” “You’re a fighter,” and other supportive words will really go far to help a friend feel empowered.
Sometimes a friend will come to you with a problem because they feel like they’re stuck in a loop or caught in a limiting mindset.
The same, negative message keeps playing in their head.
Maybe they’re being too hard on themselves, or maybe they’re laying blame on someone else.
The truth is that your friend has a problem that needs solving, and they’ve come to you because they know they need help.
So perhaps the breakthrough that they really need is a different point of view.
How To Be A Better Friend During Lockdown… A Summary
If more people just freely give each other what they need, when they need it, the world would be a much more nurturing and peaceful place.
Other wonderful gifts you can offer to a friend in need include understanding, commiseration and cooperation.
Can you team up virtually to problem-solve together?
What about just showing you’re there for them with a good attitude and willingness to help in whatever way possible?
It isn’t so difficult to help someone turn things around for themselves and feel good.
How will you support a friend today?