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5 Tips to Stay Connected With Friends

Although technology has helped make the world more connected than ever, loneliness , anxiety and depression are on the rise with just about every age group. This has been especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has literally forced people into isolation.

For older adults, who were already at increased risk of experiencing loneliness and isolation prior to the pandemic, it is important to make a more concerted effort to stay in touch with friends and family. Research has tied social isolation and loneliness to greater risks of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, depression and cognitive decline. In order for older adults to improve their overall health and wellness, it’s necessary to feel the warmth of true connection, even if it’s from a distance.

Here are five creative ways that you can maintain friendships from afar and still feel close to loved ones:

Become Pen Pals

Taking pen to paper and sharing your thoughts and feelings with a friend or loved one is a time-honored tradition that has tapered off in recent years. Having an outlet to communicate openly with someone plays a vital role in feeling connected to them. While the “old school” way to have a pen pal would be to send them letters in the mail, going digital is also an option. Sending emails back and forth to friends can be equally rewarding, especially given that email correspondence can happen without much of a time delay.

Add Phone Calls to Your Calendar

Just as you would schedule a meeting or appointment on your calendar, consider adding phone calls with friends to your weekly agenda. While the spontaneity of receiving a call from a friend is always welcome, it’s also nice to make sure that you’ll be available to chat when a friend wants to talk, or vice versa. If you schedule calls that are a regular occurrence, you’ll always know that there will be something to look forward to each week.

Join a Social Media Platform

Social media can be a hot-button issue, but when it’s used properly, it can be an effective way to keep in contact with friends , especially those you may have fallen out of touch with over the years. Social media allows you to search for friends whom you haven’t seen in a while, share photos and videos with friends, and start conversations when it’s convenient for you. Social media platforms help eliminate some of the social anxiety that you might feel during in-person interactions, taking pressure off of you to respond in real time and only interact with others when you are feeling up to it.

Schedule Zoom Dates

In this post-pandemic world, Zoom has entered the zeitgeist as a new-normal way to communicate via secure video chats. Because of the video component, Zoom makes it feel as if someone is there in the room with you. For this reason, joining friends over video chat (if you don’t have Zoom, you can try Skype or FaceTime) can be more than just a conversation—you can also share a meal together, enjoy a happy hour, or have a virtual game night.

Play Online Games

From Wordle to Cardz Mania , the internet is a great place to find interactive games that are both intellectually stimulating and fun to play. You can either engage a friend to play with in real time, or play solo and chat with them about it afterwards. (Wordle is the best example of a solo game that everyone is talking about right now .) Games are a great way to bond with friends, but also serve as an activity that improves cognitive function as you age.

No matter how you choose to stay connected to the people you love, what’s most important is that you do, in fact, stay connected. With countless social, emotional and physical benefits to staying in touch with good friends, your health is dependent on it.

Hilary Young Author

Hilary Young is a writer dedicated to helping older Americans live healthier, more fulfilling lives. You can find her on Twitter as @hyoungcreative.

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