If you follow Hudson on Instagram, you probably know that her squad runs deep. But, coming up on year three of the pandemic, she's found that keeping those ties strong has become more challenging. "I think what's happening, based on the people I'm connected with, is that we've all become a little more insular—we all like being in our houses and have found that we're comfortable there," she recently told me over Inbloom-infused smoothies at the Bluestone Lane at New York City's Hudson Yards.
I, for one, relate to this feeling of disconnection in a big way (hi friends! I miss your faces!), and social health expert Kasley Killam, MPH, says Hudson and I are not alone. "The pandemic has triggered a friendship reset—both intentionally, because people have evaluated their connections and let go of less meaningful ones, and unintentionally, because it has been so easy to drift apart," she says. "The pandemic has also harmed two key ingredients for forming and maintaining friendships: proximity and consistency. It’s much harder to stay close when you rarely see someone." Add to that the fact that this pandemic landscape has led to mass burnout, COVID-related stress about gathering, and being out of practice for socializing in general, and it's no wonder many friendships have started to fray.
"If you’re feeling disconnected, maybe you need to ask yourself if you’re nurturing the right friendships." —Kate Hudson
Even so, Hudson says this reality isn't so much something to mourn as it is an opportunity to reassess and realign with the relationships in your life. "If you’re feeling disconnected, maybe you need to ask yourself if you’re nurturing the right friendships," she says. To do this, she recommends asking yourself a few key questions:
- Which friendships are worth nurturing?
- How and why are these friendships worth nurturing?
- What are you giving to a particular friendship?
- What is this particular friendship giving to you?
According to Killam, this set of questions checks out. "Research has shown that social satisfaction is a stronger predictor of well-being than social network size—meaning that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to relationships," she says. "So, reflecting on your friendships and being intentional about which connections you invest in can be a valuable exercise."
And to be sure, just because a friendship may have lapsed, it's not necessarily officially DOA. To get things back on track, Killam recommends firing off a text about how you're feeling—something along the lines of, “I’ve fallen so behind on friendship, and I miss you. Free next week?” The most important thing, she says, is to be up-front and own what's going on. "You are probably not alone in the desire to reconnect, so try being honest," she says. "Vulnerability is key to close connection."
Hudson's suggestion? "Check in, go to the dinner, and make the effort to really be one-on-one," she says. "Sometimes you get into your routine—you're with your kids, you're busy—but ultimately, we all need our friends."
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