When Michelle Obama shared that being in quarantine had caused her to experience a low-grade level of depression, I'm pretty sure that a lot of us could totally feel where she was coming from. The reality is, no matter how outgoing or introverted we are, this pandemic has definitely tried us when it comes to not being able to engage others (in the way that we're used to) and not going out on the regular, while also trying to figure out how to manage our job, finances, relationships and children (if we're parents). After a while, trying to balance all of this can take its toll.
That's why, it's so important to make sure that you practice self-care right through here, and that you reach out to your friends, just to make sure that they're good. If, when it comes to the latter, you're all about that, but you're not sure how to do it during this "new normal" of ours, here are 10 tips that can make your homies feel loved, encouraged and totally supported as we all continue to ride COVID-19 out.
1. Start Off the Morning with a Motivational Quote
I'm probably being a little biased when I say this, but since I am such a lover of quotes, I had to make sure this point topped the list. Anyone who's read any of my articles on here knows that I'm not the most succinct person on the planet (don't judge me). Yet that's actually why I dig quotes so much—they're a concise way to motivate, inspire or affirm someone. That's why I say that one way to support your friends is to make it a habit to wake up and text them a great quote; one that will encourage them to start their day off on the right foot. It can make them feel more positive while also making you feel great for being so thoughtful, at the same time.
2. Stay on Top of Their Love Language
As a marriage life coach, I'm a firm believer that one of the biggest struggles in relationships is assuming that the way you want love to be expressed is automatically the way someone else desires for it to be. And you know what? Until a lot of us accept that this way of thinking is more about our ego than anything else, we could get in our own way when it comes to getting closer to those we truly care about.
That's why, not only am I a fan of implementing love languages in romantic relationships, but when it comes to parenting and friendships too. Matter of fact, last year, I wrote an article entitled "This Is How To Apply Love Languages To Your Friendships" to help you better understand how your own friends' love language(s) can be better applied. For instance, while my top one is words of affirmation, a lot of my friends are quality time folks. Since we're not seeing each other right now, they will shoot me a random email or mail me a card and I will set aside an hour to just chat about…shoot, whatever they want to chat about.
Trust me, making the time to even find out what your friend's love language is will make them feel like you are being truly proactive in meeting their relational needs. And proactiveness is a superpower beyond measure in any relationship. It really is.
3. Keep Up with Special Days
I think it's a Gemini thing that we're super over-the-top when it comes to birthdays. Matter of fact, I don't even observe holidays, so my friends know that, come June 17 of every year, I'm like, "What…is…UP?" However, my friends who also remember that I observe Rosh Hashanah (because Christ was a Jew, right?—Mark 15:2) and make sure to send a special shout-out on that day (especially since it changes every year)? That really warms my soul.
Everyone has a birthday. But most of us have special days besides that. Finding out what your friends' are is another way to take real initiative in the friendship. Plus, since the pandemic is causing days, weeks and months to kinda all run in together, reaching out to your friends, on their special days, can help them to feel like 2020 wasn't just one long—Monday (chile…chile).
4. Do Some Group Journaling
Journaling is dope. If you're not someone who does it on the regular, you'd be amazed by how much it can de-stress you and bring clarity to things you may be internalizing. Well, when it comes to group journaling, basically it consists of people getting together to do it. Everyone can offer up writing prompts (like themes or topics) for each session. Then, a time period is set aside to journal. Once everyone is done, they are encouraged to read some of what they shared out loud and expound, if they'd like. Then their audience (or in this case, their friends) can share their thoughts about their thoughts. Not only is group journaling a way to keep your creative juices flowing but it can help you to show real courage when it comes to being vulnerable with others. It can also help you to be more open to hearing other points of view.
When you look at group journaling from this perspective, who better to group journal with than your homies? You can even get each other super hyped up by agreeing to purchase a fresh journal for each other, while letting it be a surprise what the journal looks like until you each receive yours in the mail. (While we still have the mail. Lawd, get Trump outta here!)
5. Schedule Weekly (or Monthly) Face-to-Face Calls
Although a lot of us have the mindset that, so long as we see someone we care about like an IG post or tweet something out into cyberspace, they must be cool, there is nothing like holding an actual conversation with your friends. While you might not have the time (or emotional energy) to reach out on the daily, try and schedule a chat at least once a week or once a month. It's the easiest way to catch up and oftentimes the most effective way for people to feel like they aren't out here dealing, alone.
6. Come Up with Your Own Theme Days
Charge it to that Gemini thing if you'd like, but one of my favorite sites is National Day Calendar. You'd be amazed the kind of days of observance are on the books (it's actually where I got the idea to write articles like "Make 'National Bathtub Party Day' Your Favorite Day Of The Year", "'National All Or Nothing Day' Reminds Us That Sometimes It Needs To Be Just That", "Celebrate What Makes You "YOU" On National Inner Beauty Day", "National Girls' Night In Day Is This Sunday. Here's How To Kick It This Weekend." and "Whew, Chile. It's National Orgasm Day!"). Well, who said that you and your friends can't come up with your own theme days? A wine day. A pamper day. A listen to nothing but 90s R&B day. A get-over-our-ex day. The anniversary of your friendship day. The sky is the limit here, but if you add a few theme days to your own calendar, it's something else that can definitely break up the monotony of this pandemic.
7. Send Them Something Thoughtful
Money is tight in the time of COVID-19. Boy, do I know it. But if there was ever a time when "it's the thought that counts" rings true, it would be during this season of life.
Sending something thoughtful to your friends doesn't mean that it has to be expensive. It can be a scented soy candle for their bedroom. A movie stream to add to their collection. Or shoot, a personalized mask.
I've copped a few myself on Etsy that have been quite the conversation piece when I'm out at the grocery store (which is basically the only place I go these days) because I make sure they all have a Black cultural message. There are plenty of merchants that will personalize a mask for you for under 20 bucks. Just go to the site and put "Black culture mask" or "personalized mask" in the search field to see what tickles your fancy.
8. Watch Movies (or Read a Book) Together (by Video or Phone)
I don't know about y'all, but I DEFINITELY did not think that 2020 was gonna be the year of watching more movies (or re-watching more movies) than my mind can comprehend. I also didn't believe that I would be getting back to chain reading like I did when I was a kid. But here we are. I'm personally the kind of person who prefers to watch and read alone (unless I'm boo'ed up which is a totally irrelevant point at this time). But if you're an extrovert or you've simply gotten to the point where cabin fever has you going insane, something else that you can do is have a virtual (or phone) meeting with your friends where y'all can watch movies or even read and/or discuss books together. On the movie tip, if coins are so tight that you had to cut your cable and streaming services, Tubi is a site that shows movies (and even some throwback television series), in all kinds of genres, for free. There are ads that pop up from time to time but again, since it's free, it's basically worth it.
9. Design Electronic Vision Boards Together
While "this too shall" pass isn't exactly Scriptural, that doesn't make it any less true. Besides, Ecclesiastes 3:1(NKJV) assures us that, "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven." So, while it might seem like this pandemic—and all of the fallout from it—is going to last FOR-E-VER, it won't. To make sure that you don't fall into a lethargic way of living your life until you are able to "get back out again", how about doing some electronic vision boards with your friends? It can be a professional one that is focused on careers goals, a personal one that is focused on personal development or even a relational one where you explore what you will do differently once you can actually go on real dates again. The reason why I recommend electronic ones is because they are easy, convenient and a cool way to exchange your visions without having to worry about mailing poster boards back and forth. Plus, doing a project like this can bring in glimmers of hope and excitement on low (or just sheer boredom) days. You can find different apps for this here.
10. Be Their Accountability Partner
An author by the name of Will Craig once said, "Accountability is the glue that bonds commitments to results." While your friends are grown and don't need another mother or proverbial hall monitor for their life, accountability is good in the sense of checking in, encouraging them to keep the goals that they set and yes, even calling them out on their ish when necessary. There are a lot of people out here who are suffering, BIG TIME, during COVID-19. A part of the reason why is because they lack a loving, loyal and compassionate accountability partner. It can never hurt to ask your friends if they feel like they need one. It also can't hurt for you to ask them to be one for you.
Accountability is simply about holding each other responsible. It's an anchor that can keep you and your friends secure until things level back out. Get one. Be one. It'll bless you both.
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