As we settle into our new normal, have you reconnected with your circle of friends? It seems many of us haven’t.

According to a recent survey by American Perspectives, a large number report having fewer close friendships than they did in the past. We are not talking with friends as often and relying on them less for personal support.

Experts say the reasons are many. In quarantine, we became focused on family and those in our immediate circles. With so much time having passed, reaching beyond that small sector can now feel strange. Our new schedule doesn’t include time with friends like it used to. Change in geography – from bustling offices to our spare room at home; from classrooms to the kitchen table; from social functions to zoom happy hours – has severed ties and many don’t know how to reconnect. For others, the feeling of overwhelm still lingers and the thought of adding get-togethers is simply too much.

But we need our friends for personal health and happiness, and it’s important to re-establish those once close and more distant connections. Stepping out of our comfort zone not only helps us, it could also help another who has withdrawn due to depression, anxiety or fear.  

We often take healthy relationships for granted, but studies show that those with hearty social circles live longer and with more vitality. Friends boost happiness and reduce stress; they improve our self-confidence and increase our self-worth, sense of belonging and purpose. Friends are there when we need to talk or simply let off steam; they can encourage us away from bad habits and into healthier ones. But maybe most importantly are the warm and fuzzy feelings you get from being a good friend. 

As you establish your new normal, don’t forget old friends. While it may feel uncomfortable to reach out after so much time, that feeling will quickly pass when the connection is made. Letting someone know you’ve been thinking about them will help you, and may help them more than you know. 

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