3 ways to strengthen your friendships during COVID-19

You might not be able meet up with your friends, but you can still be there for them.

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Hannah Dilanchyan, Staff Writer

“True friends are always together in spirit.”

L.M. Montgomery was right. While friends and family members are kept apart as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are ways to strengthen these relationships. Friends are currently limited to FaceTime conversations, Zoom meetings and occasional snail mail as methods of staying in touch.

For a majority of college students, this change has been dramatic. Merely a month ago, I was living in Biola’s Stewart Hall with my suitemates. I was almost always with my friends—during classes, in the omelet line before chapels, on Chick-fil-A runs and in study rooms for homework sessions.

Every student’s life was turned upside down once universities began to close. Friends immediately packed their belongings and flew home in order to beat the impending travel ban. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to most of my friends, who had become like family. 

God did not intend for man to be alone. We were created to be social creatures, so we must maintain our relationships even from miles away. Here are a few ideas to help you maintain and even strengthen your friendships. 

1. INITIATE 

Friendships are hard to strengthen when people are forced to stay home and social distance. Reaching out to your friends first reveals your care and love for them. Be the first to reach out. Call them or start a FaceTime. As a busy college student, putting your friends first is a powerful way of showing that you are willing to nurture these relationships at a time when social interaction is a luxury among endless responsibilities. 

Another way to take initiative is to bless a friend. Throw on some gloves and head to the grocery store. While you’re picking up essential needs for the week, grab an extra bouquet of flowers, their favorite drink or a small card. Drop them off on your friend’s porch on your way home. This could brighten up their day—and yours too. 

2. ENCOURAGE

This is one of the most difficult seasons in many people’s lives. People are suffering financially. According to CNBC, unemployment rates may break over 30%. Being an encourager can really make a difference in your friends life. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up.” Christians are called to encourage their friends. This can come in all shapes and sizes. Send them a Bible verse that has given you hope. Help them see the positive side of things.

One of the best ways to strengthen your friendships is to pray for one another. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times.” Praying for your friends is an essential way to love them well. Our love for one another doesn’t change during this time that we are separated. You can do this together on FaceTime or Zoom, or privately at home. We need to think outside the box and find new ways to serve each other. 

3. MAKE TIME FOR FUN

Finding time to have some fun is essential. It’s important to break the repetitive routine that we find ourselves in during quarantine. This will keep us motivated, happy and healthy. Having fun with friends shouldn’t stop because of quarantine, but rather will brighten dreary days and strengthen your friendships. 

You can still have fun with your friends even if you aren’t with them in person. VICE has 57 ways to stay in touch with your friends during quarantine. One idea is Netflix Party. It’s a fun way of simultaneously watching a movie with your friends while remaining in the safety and comforts of your own home. Another cool way of staying in touch is using Marco Polo. It is a new app that helps people send videos to each other. 

This past week, a friend and I met up for lunch. We hadn’t seen each other in nearly a month. However, we opted to get some chicken bowls from a drive-thru and eat in our own cars, talking to each other with the windows down. This way, we maintained social distancing rules and kept our families safe from any unnecessary exposure. It was refreshing to find a new way of seeing friends while staying safe. 

COVID-19 has forced the best of friends to stay home and away from one another. Kindred spirits yearn for the day they can be reunited. While everyone is social distancing, there are still ways to strengthen your friendships. Take the time to invest in your friends and to encourage them. They might need it now more than ever.

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