Information alert

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It’s important to keep in touch with friends and socialise

Losing touch with friends due to fatigue and other symptoms can knock your confidence.

  • Social activity uses physical and cognitive (thinking) energy so requires planning.
  • Your family, healthcare team, teachers / tutors and friends can help think with you about the best ways for you to reconnect.

Find a balance between doing too much or too little

  • Friends can help you to stay positive and get back into activities, including school. Spend a few minutes a day or some time each week being in contact with friends.
  • Message or talk to friends one to one
  • Keep up with a group of friends if you can, doing activities online together if you can’t manage face-to-face. When able, join activities such as going to a cafe, having a meal, meeting in the park, shopping or doing physical activity such as walking, yoga or gentle sport together.
  • Stick to a plan (your plan) whether you are having a good or bad day. Try not to do more on good days or less on bad days.
  • Let your family and friends know your plan so they can support you or come up with ideas you hadn’t thought of to make things easier.

Keep in touch by texting and phoning

  • Texting or instant messaging is a good way to keep in touch, but don’t overdo it. You are using mental energy when using social media.
  • Try to stick to a set amount of time to meet / be in touch with a friend(s). You may find it helpful to set an alarm to remind you to ‘switch off’.
  • Catch up on news and gossip at regular times rather than spending hours online.
  • Social media can be a good way to stay in touch for a short amount of time each day, however, depending on the content being viewed it may not be as helpful for recovery. Stick to contact with friends/family first.
  • If you feel comfortable, you could explain to friends that on particularly bad days you may reply to messages slower, if at all. This lets them know that you are not ignoring them.

Start seeing one friend at a time

  • Start by having one friend over for an agreed amount of time.
  • Choose a day that isn’t before a day at school or other significant activity.
  • It may be helpful to ask your mum or dad to let your friend know when they need to go so you won’t feel embarrassed telling your friends that their time is up!
  • It can be easier to meet a friend out or at their house so you can control the time you spend together.
  • Once you can manage an hour or two at home you could try visiting a friend at their home or a local park or similar.
  • Try to meet friends in places that aren’t too over-stimulating/noisy as this can make socialising even more difficult and tiring for some people.

Awkward Questions

Are you worried that your friends will ask awkward questions about why you have been off school and when you will be back?

  • Prepare a simple, straightforward explanation and practice saying this aloud. Maybe a parent or another family member could help.
  • It may be helpful to say: ‘My doctors / physio don’t know yet’, ‘We’re planning things one step at a time’, ‘That depends on how I go with this part of the plan’
  • Change the subject by asking your friend a question about their life when you feel you have given enough information.

Use similar strategies for building up social activity to those used for building up physical and mental activity. 

Page last updated: 23 May 2024

Review due: 31 October 2025