How and why you should check in on your friends more often

photo of someone talking to their friends over Zoom
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Everybody says the same thing: Mental health comes first. But do they actually practice it? As we near the sixth month of shelter-in-place orders, you might be losing your motivation to maintain your mental health and connect with your friends virtually. Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll feel ready to put mental health first by checking in and reconnecting with friends remotely.

We understand that sometimes you don’t know what to say. First, don’t overthink it. You can send them a short “Hi, Sam, it’s been awhile!” or “Hey! Just saw an ad for Justin Bieber’s new song, and it made me think of you. How’ve you been lately?” — these are both fine. Really, you can send whatever you’d like. There are no rules for checking in except to do it and do it often. We are all going through unprecedented times with remote school, COVID-19, fires and more, so having extra support is never a bad thing.

Checking in with someone doesn’t have to mean stopping by with some tea, cookies and tissues and asking them if they’ve been OK lately. Remember, it can be much more simple than that, such as shooting them a quick text message or leaving them a cheerful voicemail. Or you could go the full nine yards and surprise your friend with a small teddy bear in the mail along with a note saying, “You are loved, and I’m thinking of you,” but this is truly going above and beyond.

Even if you have a “distant friend” whom you only talk to a couple of times a year, just text them out of the blue. Trust me, they’ll love that you thought of them and will be really appreciative of your message. A simple “Hey Ariana! It’s been awhile; how are you doing?” can go a long way. It gives the person a chance to reflect on where they are at that moment and think through how they feel, even if they are doing this subconsciously.

It is so incredibly easy to feel lonely and lost during these times. We are all stuck at home, many of us still buried in schoolwork and lacking the outlet to take a break by going out and socializing with friends. And even though you can see a person on Zoom and talk to them directly, most agree that it’s just not the same as in-person interaction.

Checking in on your friends is also a way to check in on yourself — it’s a two-way street, and this is why it’s so immensely important. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and no one is checking in on you, don’t blame them. You have no idea what’s going on in their life; they could be busy sorting out their own work and emotions or feeling equally apprehensive about reaching out. Instead, take the first step and reach out yourself. I’m sure they’ll be happy to hear from you.

Whatever you end up doing, checking in gives you a chance to catch up and reconnect. It can help take your mind off all the assignments, chores and work you have waiting for you. So we encourage you to text a couple of friends out of the blue every once in a while. Everybody can use extra support, and receiving a message from you will surely brighten their day.

Contact Natalia Brusco at [email protected].