Emotional Wellness Boot Camp: Significance of Social Connections
The covid-19 pandemic has affected our lives immensely. Each one of us faced pandemic fatigue and stress, in one way or another. Some of us fell into financial crises; others met social isolations and emotional burnouts.
Although the global pandemic requires social distancing as a preventive measure, many of us felt anxious and overwhelmed due to the social distances; lack of social connections.
In order to ensure a healthy lifestyle with good emotional health, one needs to realize the significance of their social life. Human beings are social creatures; we require each other to thrive in life. We crave companionship and support from friends, family, and colleagues. Social connections play an integral part in our lives, it gives us a sense of belonging and warmth. Each person we share a link with leaves a lasting impact on our emotional health.
People who have the support of friends and family are more likely to be happier and less stressed. This is because they have people to share their highs and lows with. When people feel connected and secure within relationships, they are less likely to get depressed. In addition, they are comparatively more empathetic, approachable, and cooperative.
On the other hand, loneliness silently impacts an individual internally. Anti-social behavior and isolation can cause a person’s physical, emotional and psychological health to decline. In some cases, people don’t feel connected to their surroundings and don’t have anyone to lend them a hand in their difficult times. In such cases, the person can likely fall into the whirlpool of depressing thoughts. It can affect their sleeping patterns and eating habits, drag them into using substances, binge eating and excessive online shopping. (anyone else on a first name basis with your delivery person?!?)
Loneliness can do more damage than one can imagine. According to Brené Brown, PhD.,
“We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.”
It is essential to reflect on how closely knit you are with your social circles and community. Although, you do not need to have a huge friend circle or family gatherings to feel connected. A few close friends you can count upon can help you radiate positivity as well.
The way you need social companionship and encouragement to keep going, your colleagues or friends might as well. So try making yourself available for others too, check up on your friends, give them a call, go on a walk with them, or catch up with old friends. This is a cycle of positivity that enhances everyone’s social life and activity.
Let us categorize our social relationships into 3 basic types, which will help us reflect on our connectedness better.
- Intimate Connections: The connections we have with our family, friends, and immediate gatherings. The closest form of relationships, those we count upon commonly. The people we spend the most time with and the ones who contribute the most to our emotional wellbeing.
- Relational Connections: The connections built with the ones we interact with regularly. People like workmates/classmates, or might be someone whom you jog with every morning. These people make up your day-to-day life, and hence good relations with them can highly impact your moods positively.
- Collective Connections: These are the connections built due to commonalities. You might share the same interests with them, or you are a part of the same community. You can initiate good conversations with these people and form new connections. They can contribute to your social and emotional wellbeing and vice versa.
The categories mentioned above aren’t rigorous. They are flexible and can overlap. The aim is to understand what role social interaction plays in our lives and how integral it is for our emotional upliftment to build connections and share emotions with diverse people.
Reflect on what kinds of relationship you share with people and how does that impact your emotional health. For example, do you think a friendship you share with someone is toxic? If you feel restricted and uncomfortable in a relationship, you can surely cut it off and prioritize your emotional wellbeing.
On the other hand, you might also want to review what kind of people you want to share connections with? For example, you can initiate a conversation with a colleague whose hard work inspires you or join a sports club where you might meet people with similar interests!
You can make new friendships or strengthen the existing ones. Either way, it is about connecting with others so you do not feel like you are on an island completely alone.
The Impact of COVID 19 on Social Connections
Physical distancing and avoiding gatherings lowers the risk of the spread of the virus. However, it implies that the social life of people is at stake. People cannot physically meet, gather for a chess game, celebrate birthdays together, go for lunch in breaks during work, gym together, or merely spend a night at a friend’s place talking about life!
This is an alarming situation. As physical interaction is limited, people are falling into the trap of loneliness and depression. The ones with an active social life cannot adjust to this new normal; they feel trapped and anxious. As a result, their emotional health is severely affected, showing how social connections help us be emotionally fit.
However, until we get back to the social practices, here are a few things we can do to keep ourselves connected in these desperate times.
- Make use of technology efficiently. Pick up your phone and call your friends, grandparents, colleagues, etc. Ask them how they are coping up with the stress and if they need help.
- Use applications like facetime and other video calling facilities to keep in touch. For example, go on a group call with your family members, cousins, friend circles, workmates, etc.
- If you have a balcony or front yard, interact with people outside through it. Connect with diverse people with the ease of being at home.
- Join an online workshop or group such as dance classes, fitness groups, Ludo/Chess sessions, etc. You will feel fresh, and it will lessen your pandemic fatigue.
- Keep a check on your neighbors. Question them about their routines and chat with them once in a while. It will help both of you enlighten your moods.
Simple steps like those mentioned above can help you and people around you keep a check and balance of their emotional wellbeing. We all acknowledge that it is an unfortunate and desperate time for everyone. All of us can help each other pass this together. So, keep yourself connected and be mindful of your emotional health!
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