An Illustrated Resource on How to Build Relationships in a Pandemic


Can we take a moment to collectively acknowledge how hard this is right now? With everything going on, we need people more than ever, but for many of us, connecting has never been harder.

relationship building in a pandemic

Though it is hard, it is not impossible. The illustration I created suggests six ways you can grow and build relationships, even in a pandemic:

  • Check in and reach out
    • Text, call, message, send mail – find a way to connect with the people in your life. Research shows that staying socially connected, even if it’s online or over the phone, helps to mediate loneliness and promote healthy coping behaviors. Reaching out to a friend via text or Instagram direct message proves helpful for both you and that friend!
  • Anticipate needs
  • Ask for help
    • You are not alone, and the people around you do not want you to feel alone!
  • Draw on collective identity
    • Find ways to connect with your culture.
  • Set and keep boundaries
  • Engage conflict with care

It’s ok if this is hard. This is self-care, and real self-care always has a cost. Choosing one or two of these suggestions for how to build relationships that you can intentionally practice each day – even in just one relationship a day – may help preserve important relationships, build trust and intimacy, and keep the loneliness of surviving a pandemic just a little less overwhelming.

If you want to learn more about becoming a good steward of relationships, check out the Resilient Leaders Project certificate from The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, where you can learn more from the brilliant Kate Davis who initially presented this list in a Zoom talk on resilience early in 2020.

Get a PDF or poster:


Image Description for Screen Readers:

1. Check-in and reach out. (A hand-drawn doodle shows a person of color with a ponytail looking at a person shown on the screen of her phone, with a speech bubble saying “I remember you said…” )

2. Anticipate needs. (A hand-drawn doodle of a spiral notebook day planner shows a two-week calendar, the section labeled “this week” has very few events but the section labeled “next week” has many events and some! It’s, indicating lots of commitments.)

3. Ask for help. (A hand-drawn person with a headband is shown speaking to a person on the screen of their laptop. The person outside the computer has a speech bubble that says “It’s just so much.”)

4. Draw on collective identity. (A hand-drawn indigenous person is shown drumming on a drum, while in the background their TV screen shows an “online drum circle.”)

5. Set and keep the boundaries. (A doodle of a smart phone screen is shown. On the screen an incoming message is shown saying “you up? I’m in a huge mess!” with the time showing 11:40PM, And an outbound reply 10 minutes later says “I hear you. Let’s talk in the a.m.”)

6. Engage conflict with care. (A hand-drawn white person in a polo shirt is shown talking on the phone, his speech bubble says “When you… I feel…”)

Image created by @LindsayBraman from content created by Kate Davis.

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