For many people, social connections and loneliness have been a topic of renewed attention due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The implementation of social distancing guidelines has severely impacted our ability to get together and interact. In turn, making it difficult to maintain existing friendships and create new ones. 

This drastic shift has exacerbated the loneliness epidemic in the US. Some experts blame shrinking family sizes and the fact that more adults live alone. And, as it turns out, this is a problem that can have serious consequences. Research has shown that individuals who yearn for social connection may experience significant health risks as a result of loneliness and isolation. 

Unfortunately, for most people reading this, gone are the days of elementary school, when making new friends was as easy as inviting someone to join you on the monkey bars. As people get older, many find it increasingly difficult to form new friendships. If you are struggling to make friends, know that you’re not alone (figuratively speaking, that is). And while cultivating new relationships may be more difficult during the pandemic, it’s not impossible. It just may require a bit more effort and intentionality. You can get this excellent book, Never feel lonely again, with a 5 step system to making friends if you’d like some specific details. Also, check out these ideas for how to make new friends and revitalize your social life:

  • Connect with friends of friends. Making new friends doesn’t mean starting completely from scratch. Start by leveraging your existing social network. Are there any acquaintances you’d like to get to know better? Any friends of existing friends who you might get along with?
  • Put down the phone. Some people have speculated that our growing social disconnection is caused in part by our increasing absorption with our phones. Think about it—when was the last time you waited in line without pulling out your smartphone and scrolling to pass the time? Next time you’re waiting for a coffee, or standing in line at the grocery store, resist the urge to reach for your phone and try starting a conversation with the people around you instead.
  • Harness the power of the internet. The internet (and especially social media) have made it easier than ever to connect with people who have shared interests. Consider looking for people who share your same interests or hobbies on Meetup, or joining a friend-finding app like Bumble BFF. (As a reminder, remember to never give away your personal information to anyone on the internet. And make sure your first meeting with someone takes place in a well-lit public place.)

The Institute of Youth Development and Excellence (IYDE) strives for every youth in the world to have access to a trained mentor because of the impact they can have on a child’s life. If you are looking for connection in your life, consider becoming a trained mentor through our organization.  Our mission is to provide mentors in every community across the United States with the tools and training for successful and meaningful relationships with their mentees. Placing trained mentors in the lives of youths impacts critical life decisions and influences how they contribute to their communities and society as a whole. It also brings meaning and purpose to the lives of the mentors. Help us make a difference in the lives of children by joining us as a volunteer or donating to our cause today!

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