Here are some ways to support friends who may be struggling to cope with the pandemic
1. Stay connected
With social distancing in place, keeping up with friends can be challenging when you can’t meet in person. Luckily, there are still ways to stay in touch and spend time together.
Just reach out 👋
Just hearing your voice or seeing your face can be more helpful for a friend that you think, as it shows you’re looking out for them. Even a text might cheer them up, reminding them there is someone who cares for them.
Try audio 📞
Sometimes audio calls are easier than video calls. Being on screen can make people feel self-conscious, anxious or just a bit less relaxed. It might be worth trying an audio phone call, rather than a video call.
Care packages 💌
For a more personal touch, why not post your friend a little care package? It can contain anything from their favourite foods to things that remind you of them. Just like a phone call, this shows you’re thinking of them and reminds them they have someone in their corner.
2. Spend time together
Even if you can’t meet in person, try arranging a virtual hang out or play an online game together. Apps like Zoom and FaceTime let us be face-to-face with friends no matter the distance.
But, if you’re getting overwhelmed or bored of video calls, there are other ways you can be with your friend from a distance too.
Remote film club 🎬
Watch a film or TV show at the same time as a friend or a group of friends. You can even set up a messaging group (for example, in Whatsapp) to chat and send voice messages while you watch.
Exercise at the same time 🕺🕺🕺
Follow along with a live workout video at the same time, or agree to both go out for a walk or a jog at the same time. You could even share a challenge or a goal, like training for a 5k or 10k, and keep each other motivated.
Cook together 🍳
Whip up some cookies, a lemon drizzle or a slice of apple pie at the same time as a pal. You can phone to compare results, Great British Bake Off style. Marks for the taste, appearance and lack of burnt bits. If it’s in line with current restrictions, you could even meet up somewhere outdoors to try each other’s attempt. Delicious!
Have an adventure somewhere new 🌄
Meet up and explore outside, and if you’re feeling up to it, you could even create a fun scavenger hunt with a set of clues for friends to follow. Again, this one really depends on what the current restrictions are, so check them first.
Just because you won’t necessarily be in the same place doesn’t mean you can’t do the same thing and feel connected.
3. Talk about your worries
This can be the hardest, but most rewarding way to help a friend. Ask your friend what’s bothering them and how you can help.
Sometimes just being asked what’s wrong can make a big difference. I find it’s much easier to speak about my problems when someone asks me about them. Even if your friend is reluctant to speak about their anxieties and struggles at first, talking can still be helpful.
You could open up about some of your problems, as this may encourage them to share. Or, if not, it will show them that they’re not alone in their feelings and that you are someone they can come to in the future.
4. Help them get help
No matter how hard we try, there are some things we just can’t help our friends with. Whether it’s mental health issues or family problems, we can sometimes feel out of our depth when trying to support a friend. And that’s okay.
In these cases, it’s best to remind them of the other support that’s out there. There’s lots available, here are some good places to start:
- Fumble’s pandemic advice and information
- Mental health support groups
- LGBTQ+ counselling services
- Youth Access, to find local counselling for young people aged 12-25
- The Mix, get support via 1-to1 webchat, email or counselling
5. Remember to look after yourself too!
Helping other people can be tough on your own wellbeing, so make sure you look after yourself too.
It’s important to have boundaries in place. For example, I tell my friends that they can text or call me anytime before 10pm. We all need to relax at the end of the day and so do your friends. It’s important to have some time to yourself before bed, to process your own thoughts and feelings without worrying about someone else’s.
It’s also important to remember that friendships work both ways. Sometimes it can become one-sided if you only listen to your friend and don’t share your own feelings. Remember that they’re still your friend and they will most likely be happy to help and listen to you too.
If not, don’t forget that there are others who will, other friends, family members or even teachers or counsellors are all there for you if you need them.
So, whether it’s you or a friend who’s struggling, know that you’re not alone. It’s important to remember that we’re all going through this together, and that this will end.
Discover Fumble’s pandemic support series
The pandemic has had a huge impact on all of our lives, and we’ve all struggled to understand and digest the changes that continue to happen all around us. Our pandemic support series explores young people’s experiences of COVID-19, and helps you start to make sense of the chaotic and uncertain time we’re living in. Discover the full series here.
Last reviewed: 22 January 2021 | Image Credit: Priscilla Du Preez via Upsplash