University Health Service

Students masked walking socially distanced

It’s no secret that socializing looks much different now than it did before mid-March of 2020. With COVID-19 precautions, many of us are experiencing isolation, whether physically, emotionally, or both.

Studies have shown that people between ages 16-24 report feeling lonely the most. You may feel lonely despite living with roommates or seeing others on Zoom.

Though the pandemic does present challenges when it comes to staying connected, it's still possible.

The U-M Model of Well-being includes a social dimension because our feeling of connection is critical to our well-being.

Though socializing may look different than during pre-COVID times, making efforts to socialize (whether virtually or socially distant) can help to build and maintain support systems. It may feel awkward and unnatural at first, but it can do wonders for feeling connected. 

Here are some tips and ideas to help you stay connected:

  • First, be honest about how you are feeling, both with yourself and others, whether that is friends, family, a mental health professional, or a combination. You will feel better when you express your true feelings and likely will find that others feel the same way.
  • Consider setting up a weekly time to call or Zoom with a family member or close friend to check in and stay connected.
  • While many of our interactions are virtual right now, it makes a difference to see others in-person, when possible. Is there someone you can go for a walk with outside while remaining socially distanced? You may want to know about Safe Social Gatherings during COVID-19.
  • Combine social activity with your academic pursuits. During COVID, you may have to do things that you wouldn’t normally do in order to connect with classmates. Be bold!
    • Contribute to chat during your Zoom classes, if appropriate
    • Use UmichStudyBuddies to find a study buddy or friend
    • Find or create a study group with FindMyClassGroup, or make use of breakout rooms to suggest gathering outside of class
    • Attend office hours to get to know faculty and smaller groups of students
    • Make it a point to use names:
      • Use your classmate’s names when you can, e.g. "I like ___’s idea about..."
      • Greet everyone when you share in class and remind them of your name, e.g.  “Hi everyone, I’m ___.  I had a quick question about the #2 on yesterday’s lab.”
  • Try something new to meet new people. Join a new student org (see options at Maize Pages) or take a virtual Group-X class.
  • Focus on quality over quantity of friendships at this time. One deep connection can feel much more meaningful than many surface-level connections.
  • In addition, having a regular and consistent sleep schedule, and doing activities that relieve stress, such as walking, yoga, or other exercise, can improve your mood and mental health. Find more ideas at Ten Things Your Can Do for Your Mental Health. 

Explore opportunities available through the university:

  • Find Community provides lots of ideas about how you can get connect with others. 
  • The Center for Campus Involvement has increased its offerings to help students find a sense of belonging through student organizations and other campus opportunities. CCI's Get Involved page is a great resource for finding ways to get connected on campus.
  • The Happening@Michigan Events Calendar shows upcoming events and activities. 
  • Maize Pages helps you explore student organizations, from the Squirrel Club to the Solar Car Team. 
  • Engaging Students on the Maize and BluePrint website offers additional suggestions.
  • For students looking to volunteer, see Connect to Community: Connecting You with Opportunities to Serve, which includes over 300 easily searchable opportunities from about 240 local community partners (including nonprofits, schools, government), maintained by the Ginsberg Center
  • Walk with Hawkeye every Tuesday at noon, starting February 2

Consider using campus resources:

It may help to talk to someone who can support you in making social connections.