Staying Connected With Social Distancing
As our communities are being asked to support social distancing to protect ourselves and others from the coronavirus, it is important to remember that social distancing does not mean social isolation. When we are cut off from our natural connections with others, whether that is through school, work, or social gatherings, we risk losing the benefits of social connection such as improved mood and physical health.
Connect With Others
We are social creatures and having someone to talk to can be helpful. Pick up the phone and call a friend, a family member, or a co-worker. Video chat is readily available on your smartphone; use it to connect visually to the people you may not be able to see in person right now. Sharing with others lightens the emotional load you may be carrying internally and allows space for new thoughts to emerge that move you forward, rather than feeling stuck. And connecting by phone or video chat is more impactful than texting, as you can hear and/or see the person which increases the emotional connection.
Support Each Other
Turning to each other for support helps to prevent feelings of isolation. People often do not know that someone needs help, but are more than happy to help once they know it is needed. You can ask for help from someone in your household or reach out to neighbors who may be of assistance. As you ask for help, you may find that others need help, too. Think about who in your life may need help and give them a call to offer your assistance. Find people in your community, like other parents with young children, and see if you can help each other while the schools are closed. Even long distance help can be provided by talking through issues on the phone or helping a loved one with researching local resources for the help that is needed.
Connect With Information
In our 24-hour news world, it is easy to find the latest information on how our local community, the nation, and the world is dealing with the coronavirus. Staying connected to the news often provides the sense of being “in the know”, which may reduce feelings of being isolated.
When connecting with news it is important to evaluate what level of news is helpful for you, as it may lead to heightened anxiety, increased stress levels, or spiraling thought patterns. If you are feeling anxious and scared about the virus, you may want to avoid opinion pieces and focus on news that is only providing the facts. If you find yourself stuck in front of the television and you are neglecting other responsibilities or you cannot get your mind to stop thinking about it, you may find it helpful to limit the number of hours per day you spend learning about the latest updates so that it does not consume your day.
Use Online Services
Are you feeling like you have to cancel all of your upcoming appointments which may further isolate you? Ask your doctor or your therapist if they offer online services. Many providers now have the ability to provide video or phone sessions that allow you to remain connected during this time of social distancing. If you are feeling anxious or depressed and need a professional to talk to, find a therapist who offers online video therapy to help you process the changes you are experiencing and to remain connected.
Take a moment to evaluate how social distancing is currently affecting your life. Ask yourself what options are available for you to adjust what you are doing to increase your feelings of connection with others. We are in this together and remaining connected will assist us as we move through this difficult time. Feel free to share below how you are staying connected with others.
Bradi Bergesen is a licensed independent clinical social worker using online video therapy to connect with adults throughout the state of Washington to help them live at their fullest potential.