For people with a history of mental health issues, such as anxiety disorders or depression, isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic can create the perfect storm of worry to cause a crisis. I knew that one of my dearest friends would be experiencing just such a difficult time, and as a friend, I knew I had to find a method of helping her deal with this anxiety. These are some of the techniques I use to support my friend as she experiences anxiety.
Make Use of Video Messaging Applications
Whether your platform of choice is Facetime, Skype, or another service, these applications give the feeling of being together even when you can’t be. I scheduled times to have virtual “visits” with my friend, so she knows I am always there for her. While there is no perfect substitute for being physically present, arranging visits over an internet connection often fills in as a suitable temporary arrangement. I made sure she knew I would be there any time, day or night, should she need my support. Otherwise, I set aside at least a half an hour to start each day, and another full hour in the evenings, before we go to bed. This is always a boost to my friend’s mental health, as seeing a friendly, caring face as the day starts and the evening comes on is a reminder that someone is there for her. These visits make my sweet friend feel important like she still matters. That’s the whole point of friendship anyway, at least to me.
Send Random Text Messages Throughout the Day
Aside from seeing one another via a virtual application, it’s important to maintain a feeling of connection. I strive to remind my friend that she’s always in my thoughts as we each go about our days separated physically. When I see something I know she likes, I quickly shoot a text message telling her about it. If I see a commercial for a product she’d enjoy, I send her details and tell her why she’d love it. To focus on our friendship after quarantine, I get in contact when I find an event or service we can enjoy together in the future. It is in these small text messages and interactions every day that remind my friend that this, too, shall pass. No matter how isolating quarantine feels at the moment, it is merely a blip. It helps me also to remember that someone needs me, as it reminds me of what being a friend to someone is truly about.
Find Funny Videos and Share the Links
It is so vital to remember to laugh. While the goal is to avoid the danger, naturally, we both must retain our sense of humor amid chaos. Laughter, they say, is the best medicine. While it may not offer the cure for the novel coronavirus, it certainly is a balm for the soul. When I see a clip or a show that give me great belly laughs, or even just a mild chuckle, I think she would want to share in the comedy, as she would if we were physically watching together. We have a similar sense of humor. Thus if I laugh at it, she’s probably going to laugh, as well. So I immediately call up her Facebook Messenger handle, or compose a new email, and copy in the link for where to find said humor. And once it’s sent, I feel as though I’ve made a great connection to my friend. One that matters to her.
Recommend Books or Articles Featuring Things She Likes
I have always been a huge bookworm, and I’ve grown accustomed to my friend’s taste in literature and culture. What this means is that when I find an e-book or online piece of writing that I find myself engrossed with, I think of her right away. We have so much time at home in isolation; it can be too easy to let our minds drift on to dark subject matter. Friends try to look out for one another and help boost each other’s spirits by reaching out with knowledge. Whether it’s a great work of fiction or a biography about a star she admires, I send her the piece so that she can enjoy another person’s existence, whether real or fictitious, and for just a little while, she can escape from the sense of isolation this virus has created.
Purchased a Floral Arrangement and Had it Delivered
Unfortunately, my friend’s birthday happened during this isolation period. That can be tough on someone with anxiety. And since she adores sunflowers, I arranged a gorgeous arrangement to be delivered via a no-contact floral delivery service. This was so she safely knows I remember and will be thinking of her and wishing we could celebrate together in person. I also use this time to start asking about next year’s celebration and all the cool stuff we can do to make up for lost time!
No matter how long this separation goes on, I won’t forget my friend and how much she needs me. And for however long this quarantine sticks around, I’ll continue to connect with her safely every day.
About the Author: Simon Choi is a mental health advocate and small business founder. He founded Standout Bands, which supports Beyond Blue and allows him to write for his mental health blog, Healthy Minds. Simon is particularly passionate about supporting those experiencing depression. Currently, Simon is also supporting those struggling as a result of COVID-19 related mental health issues.
The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.