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Staying Connected During COVID–19: When Picking Up the Phone is Hard

To say that it’s been a crazy year is an understatement. While the world is facing a devastating pandemic, I, along with many others, have struggled to maintain my relationships and friendships. After a long day of online school and Zoom meetings, the last thing I want to do is sit on the phone and talk about what’s been happening in my life (or the lack thereof). 

The loss of human connection has been one of the most difficult consequences of quarantine and COVID-19 for many of us, and I’ve struggled to figure out how to maintain connections while observing pandemic safety practices. While constantly picking up the phone and scheduling catch–up FaceTime calls may seem daunting, it’s important to find your own way of staying connected with the people you care about.

I used to be the queen of FaceTime and phone calls, but ever since the pandemic , picking up the phone has just felt like another unnecessary chore. I wouldn’t characterize myself as an overly anxious person, and I don’t typically experience social anxiety, but I do think that quarantine has challenged my ability and desire to communicate virtually—which in turn affects my relationships.

As much as I adore my friends and socializing with them, I would rather do anything but sit in my room and spend an extra hour blankly staring at my screen—it’s okay if you feel the same way! The number one priority is to simply be open and honest with your friends and loved ones about how you’re feeling. Not only will they understand, but I think they’ll actually be able to relate. 

I’ve always been a horrible texter according to…well, everyone, so I always try to let my friends know that it’s not personal. Openly communicating the feelings of being burnt–out and emotionally drained can reassure your loved ones—that you’re not intentionally dodging their calls, but rather trying to maintain your mental health and sanity, which you should never apologize for.

This leads me to my next point, which is that it’s okay to admit to your friends and family that you need some space to yourself. My number one priority has always been and always will be myself. I emphasize self–care to the point that I’ve become a walking caricature of myself. Just to paint a picture, I’m constantly wearing face masks and gua–sha massaging my cheeks while strutting around my apartment in a fuzzy robe and matching slippers. And you know what—it makes me happy and calm, so I’ll never talk.

Another problem I’ve been struggling with this semester is getting out of the apartment. Now that the air is filled with the fresh energy of spring, I have no excuse to sit around inside—and neither do you. I used to do what my mom and I like to call the “walk–and–talk,” where I would call everyone on my way to lunch, in between classes, or really anywhere I had to go during the day. 

Since there haven’t been many places to go to, unfortunately, I’ve noticed that I don’t talk to people nearly as much as I used to. So, I’ve been using this as another motivator to get out of the apartment and into the fresh air of the real world. 

It’s so easy to slip into the monotonous routine of waking up, walking two feet to your desk to do work, and then going to sleep without anything to really break up the day. I don’t obsessively count my steps or track my health activity, but I definitely understand how easy it is to stay cooped up in your apartment—coming from someone who had a grand total of 150 steps the other day. 

When I wake up, I think of a couple of friends or family members I want to catch up with that day, and I schedule to do it during my walk so I can kill two birds with one stone—who doesn’t want that? Or maybe I just find joy in being overly efficient. Either way, I definitely notice a huge upward shift in my mood when I not only go on a nice walk outside, but also get to talk to the people I love without it feeling like another chore to be checked off a never ending to–do list. 

At the end of the day, just remember that maintaining relationships can feel exhausting sometimes, but once you figure out the communication methods that work for you, it can really boost your mood. I hope you can relate to the feelings that I’ve been experiencing lately and are able to find some solace in the fact that you’re not alone. 

You’re not a bad friend for leaving texts on “read” or neglecting to virtually check in with your loved ones every day. Open communication is the most important aspect of any relationship, so do what works for you, and don’t put any unnecessary pressure on yourself!

Carly is a sophomore in the College majoring in PPE and minoring in Consumer Psychology. When she's not cackling at old Vines, she is probably binge watching YouTube videos and treating herself to a relaxing self-care routine. She is an astrology and Sudoku enthusiast and loves reading in her spare time...if that's what her horoscope is telling her to do.
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