Perhaps you are used to seeing your friends at school or college every day, or you can no longer meet up for a weekly shopping trip or games night. The world we live in has changed, and it is only natural to miss your friends and loved ones when social contact is restricted. There are, however, plenty of new ways you can stay connected with your friends and still have some fun.

1. Texting or calling your friends to check in – now so more than ever. Everyone has different things going on and everyone reacts differently to situations like sheltering and lockdown; you can regularly check in with your friends with a quick text or a call to ask them how they are doing and offer them support through whatever they are facing. Knowing someone cares is always appreciated.

2. Try setting up a virtual ‘mate-date’ – you could either try something that you wouldn’t normally do (like a baking day or karaoke night!) or you could find a new, virtual twist on something you would normally do when you hang out, like watching a movie, playing video games or having a meal – the possibilities are endless and you never know what new hobbies or interests you might find.

3. For bigger groups of friends, Zoom parties can be held for heaps of fun activities – from quiz nights to virtual murder-mystery parties and so much more! There are heaps of great ideas online so take a look for something that suits your idea of fun!

4. Study! It may sound lame, but with all of the upheaval for schools and colleges, it could be super beneficial for you and your friends to help each other study. Some might be struggling with the lack of classroom time, while others might be falling behind because of home stress, mental health struggles or a lack of motivation to do work. If you feel motivated, try to motivate others too and give them a helping hand.

5. Think about something you could organise together to help your neighbours or community. Perhaps make a plan to offer help to elderly neighbours on your street by doing some food shopping for them or delivering a few home-cooked meals. There are plenty of people who are struggling mentally, physically and financially right now – you and your friends could put your heads together to help make their days a little brighter!

6. Make plans for the future. Is there something you and your friends really want to do, or somewhere you really want to travel to after all of this is over? A great way to take your mind off of the situation and keep busy is to make a plan and have something to look forward to. You can spend time discussing the details, coming up with fun ideas, daydreaming about great places to go, etc.
However you choose to connect with people during the pandemic, remember that if you are struggling with your mental health – whether that be depression, anxiety, loneliness or anything else – always seek help and support. Try speaking to your friends and family, make an appointment with your GP, or seek advice from a mental health charity such as Mind. You don’t have to suffer alone, there is always someone there to help.