November 2, 2020
COVID-19. Business and school closures. Job furloughs and losses for some. Racial and social unrest. Political upheaval. Community death. Personal loss.
And on top of this, the very thing we’re wired for — namely, social connection — is the one thing we’ve needed to avoid for public health safety.
Certainly, each of us understands why social distancing was/is necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19. However, do you understand the potential impact of not being able to physically connect with our family and friends?
Let me explain.
Studies highlight the critical nature of social connection: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/feeling-it/201208/connect-thrive#:~:text=Social%20connection%20improves%20physical%20health,50%25%20increased%20chance%20of%20longevity.
Interesting, huh? Staying tethered to others positively affects our mood, lowers symptoms of depression and anxiety, and strengthens our immune system.
Nevertheless, how do we negotiate the day-to-day apart from the love and relationships we’re so used to?
Friends, being socially distant from our family and friends doesn’t mean we have to be emotionally distant as well.
Just the other day, as I reviewed my weekly ‘connect’ goals in my planner, I thought about close relatives I haven’t physically seen this year as a result of the pandemic. And tears quickly welled up in my eyes.
At first, my heart felt sad about my inability to visit and spend time with them. Shortly thereafter, however, I considered the emotional connection we have experienced this year, in spite of the pandemic.
I reflected on thoughtful texts received from family following my dad’s death earlier this year. I smiled as I considered Facebook messages in my inbox, all aimed to lift my spirits. Further, my heart swelled even as I considered neighbors who, from across the street or in distant garages, inquired about how this year has gone on my end.
Emotional connection can be achieved, even as we engage in social distancing in this season. And it matters.
Unfortunately, some who are physically separated from those they care about may be experiencing crippling depression, anxiety, or even suicidal thoughts.
So today, consider who you haven’t reached out to in a while. And then figure out a way to do so.
Maybe it’s a phone call. A letter in the mail. A sweet text.
Whatever method you choose to connect, know that it will likely uplift the person on the other end — a person who may be struggling in silence, in desperate need of support and care.
And for you, here are a few ideas to help improve emotional connection:
At the same time, remembering that social distancing isn’t the same as emotional distancing is a powerful thing.
Emotionally connecting with others can lead to a much happier, more fulfilling experience as we navigate whatever remains in 2020 and beyond.
Love and be kind to yourself, my friend.
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