Social support while social distancing

Social distancing is the method being used to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Whilst we are awaiting medical intervention that can cure the virus, social distancing is the current, best method to stay safe and keep others safe. 

Social distancing, simply, put, is to maintain at least 6 feet distance from anyone else. While it can be “simply put” in words, practicality is different. Being away from friends, family, acquaintances and our regular spaces of respite can mean different things-

  • Loneliness
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Violence at home
  • Losing tempers with loved ones  
  • Feelings of depression
  • Helplessness
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

If this period is bringing up tough experiences for you, please know that it is understandable. Humans are social beings. Social support is central to physical and psychological health. It isn’t the number of relationships we have, that help us cope with crisis, but the positive experiences we get from these relationships that do.

Suddenly with social distancing, there could be a lot that is missing – sense of love and belonging, meaningful activities, usual ways to de-stress etc. Especially if you’re someone who is older or have a history of anxiety, depression or a violent relationship at home, this could be particularly hard. Also, spending too much time with family when  there are frequent arguments or conflicts can also be frustrating.

In these difficult times, we require social closeness more than ever before. Although we are using the term ‘social distancing’, let’s think of this period as something that requires physical distancing – to be physically away from people but still, emotionally close.  

How?

Tip 1: Milk the most of interactions

Find new ways to get as much interaction as you can. For example, can there be daily/ weekly catch ups with neighbours while you’re in your respective balconies?

In these times, remember it isn’t only the usual things we love, that help. Any positive interaction – even as much as a smiling ‘good morning’ is worth something. To make the most of interactions, consider showing genuine interest in others and how they’re coping – offering help where you can, asking what would help others, or just listening to them would make the cut. Sharing positive news, bringing up old memories can be a ‘feel-good’ for most people at this time. An activity that could help is organizing old photo and video albums. Reminiscing old times can make us feel more secure and attached in our relationships. 

Tip 2: Technology is a social distancer’s best friend

Dinners, counselling sessions, book club meetings, happy hours, dates, movie nights, karaoke, workouts, and game nights – schedule them all online. Of course, they fall short to being around people physically. But at this point, they’d still do good for us. Research says that being able to look at other’s facial expressions can help with feelings of loneliness and depression.  Currently, there are apps that allow us to watch movies and play games together, while we’re all away. In all likelihood, technology is going to adapt and boom to give us the most it can during this period.

Doing all of this would’ve been extremely difficult even 3 years ago. Since technology is more at our disposal than it has ever been before, let’s make it work for us!

Tip 3: Soothe self when others are unavailable 

Chances are that despite all the planning there will be evenings when we’re still alone, wondering when it will all end. It’s important to accept that loneliness is something we will experience. At these times, even imagining a warm hug from a loved one can calm us down. Spraying your favourite scent and getting into a comfortable spot under the blanket, drinking a warm beverage, taking a shower, lighting candles, journaling your feelings are some ways to comfort yourself in the moment.

These tips are starting points to begin planning your own ways to connect during social distancing. In case you’re having trouble with this, or the situation you’re in at home is upsetting, our counsellors would be happy to help over an online session. Do reach out to us. 

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