Social distancing: how to avoid psychological effects

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We live in an individualistic era where ego and the idea of self are overly promoted, yet validation comes from without nurturing our narcissistic side. As a result, humanity seems like a bunch of strangers at the coolest party: lots of noise on the outside trying to hide the great void from within.
Modern society has sent forth selfish thinking, while capitalism speeds our competitive nature by encouraging productivity for a sense of contentment, finding us guilty for not doing enough.
Sounds like this day and age couldn’t be doomed any further until Covid-19 started spreading worldwide enhancing the impact on our mental health.

No matter how self-centered we have planned our lives, humans are still social animals. We may have a list of priorities that includes the “cut off time for some ME MOMENT” voice, but we are evolutionarily wired for proximity to each other.
In a pandemic environment it means that though is necessary to keep social distance and self-isolating, this doesn’t feel natural.

Studies have proved that even in a healthy condition, the absence of social interaction can hurt both physical and mental wellbeing. Additionally, it has been demonstrated that loneliness can lead to diabetes, autoimmune disorders and cardiovascular diseases. People prone to depression and anxiety are hit even harder in a regular life condition, let alone the current coronavirus culture.

In a global world where being connected and realtime updated is the norm, words such as social distancing, remote working, lockdown can be dramatic.

How are we feeling?

Fear and anxiety. We are fighting a worldwide-spread virus, which is contagious. It’s is normal to be scared and anxious. Yes, the infection rate is high, yet not as high as measles. The real issue is, symptoms can be silent and the virus lives on surfaces for a while. Moreover, we are not used to seeing empty cities, closed malls and fever tracking on food stores entrances.

Depression and boredom. We were asked to readjust our daily routine in fact days are overturned. Most of us are staying home, kids are doing online learning. There is no rhythm to get into and our future condition is still uncertain. Add in the numerous restrictions: no big parties, no restaurants, no cinemas…

Anger and frustration, or irritability. This trio of feelings has its root in the fact that we’ve had to give up control of so many things at once. It may be directed at our partners, at the man in the grocery who loaded his cart up with pasta and now we can’t find any, or to the authorities checking on us.

What can we do?

Despite the challenging period, there are some actions we can take to feel better about this quarantine, or at least be in control of our reactions to it.

The first step to a mental balance is acknowledging that what we are living in is a stressful scenario. Friends and family can turn out to be vital, retaining connections will save us from feeling lonely. After all, social distancing is not synonymous with social isolation, we can count on apps such as FaceTime and Zoom that relieve our longing for human contact.

Keeping a routine may sound hard, but proves to be essential during self-isolation. In a period of uncertainty and fear, having our time marked by assured and defined actions will help us reduce the sensation of loss.

Another practice we can benefit from is to try mindful breathing. This exercise, repeated daily, will calm our minds and body. Few minutes will be enough for good results!

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Perhaps a little thought-provoking, but having a mind shift of the current situation can result in worthwhile. In such a frenetic society, we are never asked to slow down and just wait. Having zero control over our deadlines may be frustrating and some of us might feel guilty for not taking advantage of the spare time to get some of their procrastinated tasks done. While is good recreating a routine and keeping our head busy, it is also cool to just appreciate doing nothing or engaging in moment satisfying activities, with no real goal to achieve.

Children can be an example for us to nourish our creative and spontaneous side. Engage in drawing, even if it won’t result in a piece of art, write poems, although they only make sense to you, plant seeds, tell yourselves your fairytale and share the good with loved ones.

Having the right mindset during this quarantine can be an opportunity to develop    a more healthy sense of self and can help us rethink our priorities once back at our regular pace.

Credits

Copywriter: Worlu Chioma Mordilyn @mordilynworlu
Cover Photo: Yaroslav Danylchenko @danylchenkocom

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