by Helen Robinson, LCSW, PLLC
As the days on social lockdown continue, more of us will begin to experience the impact of social isolation. Loneliness, according to a recent article in the Washington Post, can be as bad or worse for our physical wellbeing than smoking or obesity. Loneliness is also a challenge to our emotional, mental, and spiritual health.
On one hand, more Americans are interacting through social media. On the other hand, fewer Americans report having a trusted person with whom they can confide. With the new rules about social distancing and the abrupt cessation of most of our daily social routines, what can we do?
antidote to loneliness is social closening.
Here’s a new term to add to our vocabulary! We can describe social closening as the act
of closing gaps between us and others through intentional reaching out to
others as persons. Ironically, now
that our routines are disrupted and we are stuck at home, we have more opportunity
to pursue new behavior. Now that we are living in a time of social distancing,
we can practice social closening in
new and creative ways!
research suggests that relationships are as good for the immune system as
exercise. We also know that social
connectedness has as big an impact on mortality as quitting smoking. From a mental health perspective, we know
that experiencing connection, meaning, and purpose are essential elements of
what can we do while we are practicing safe
“social distancing”? Here is a short checklist of possibilities for you
- Make a list of friends
and family with whom you haven’t had contact in awhile and reach out.
- Make a list of those in
your neighborhood or church or community organization that you think might
enjoy some contact.
- Make more voice-to-voice
phone calls; use face time or skype more often.
- Spend more quiet prayer
time in the good company of your God.
Use a favorite song or words from sacred text to help you.
- Cook a few extra
servings of a nutritious comfort meal, and do some front-porch deliveries to
neighbors who aren’t cooking or shopping much.
- Find a creative way to
use your talents. If you sew, join the
ranks of others who are making extra face masks to help.
- Reach out to the
“coordinators” and “connectors” in the community you know; in all likelihood
they are keeping up with emerging unmet needs of those in our community and
will offer you new ideas for helping.
- Make a list of those
you know who are the helpers–those who are going the extra mile. Reach out every day to one of these helpers
to offer a personal thank-you!