Through the past couple of years stress has been accumulating for many of us and our strategies for coping have been limited. Planning social time is difficult when the weather doesn’t accommodate outside gatherings and limitations are required for meeting indoors.
Symptoms of loneliness aren’t limited to emotional well-being, they also negatively affect our physical health. Diminished immunity, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and an increased risk of cancer have all been linked to loneliness. Finding a way to balance safety while managing our critical social connections has become critically important for our mental and physical health.
Social support to combat loneliness can include emotional validation, information sharing, assistance with needed resources, and fostering a sense of belonging. When we feel supported by a social network that may not be large but feels strong, self-esteem is improved. In addition, the confidence we gain from a social network actually helps us to feel more equipped to deal with problems on our own.
The pandemic has changed multiple aspects of our lives including the way we interact socially. Some of us may feel a little awkward re-engaging in social connection and we may need to get creative about how we do it. Here are a few tips;
- New gestures of greeting such as elbow bumps or placing a hand to your heart may help to connect beyond words.
- Be proactive toward finding social connection, make plans with people and have things on the calendar to look forward to.
- Take advantage of technology and try your hand at zoom or another online platform to connect with out of town friends and family.
- Cast a wide net and follow your interests in order to meet like-minded others and engage in healthy hobbies and activities socially.
- As needed, make time to connect with your team of health professionals; doctor, counsellor, naturopath, physiotherapist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, massage therapist….Who do you need to see?
Spring is on the horizon and with that comes longer days, warmer weather and new beginnings. Coming together will help us all feel stronger and healthier physically and mentally.