John Donne’s 400-years ago wrote a poem whose line “No Man is an Island” has become famous and is resonating today.
Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and during this pandemic anxiety and depression are rampant. We are in the midst of a mental health crisis that affects every aspect of health and wellbeing. These can alter your hormones, gut health, neurotransmitters and immune health all of which affect your overall health.
Perhaps you have been isolating and missing in person connections. Are you now experiencing how critical social connections and relationships are to health? Are you feeling the effects?
Social distancing and isolation are robbing us of the feel-good neurotransmitters and hormones that affect wellbeing. Yet, there are ways to alleviate these feelings, and rebalance hormones and neurotransmitters. While social distancing is necessary, socialization and connection have to be achieved in a very different way and risk factors for depression can be modified.
What is the critical factor?
The critical factor – Connection!
- Connection was the strongest protective factor for depression. Relationships have been found to be extremely important for mental health.
What the studies showed
The modifiable risk factors in the study from the American Journal of Psychiatry for alleviating depression were:
- Reducing sedentary activities such as TV watching
- Reducing daytime napping could also help lower the risk of depression-
- Connection through confiding in others and visiting with family and friends
What to do
- Take a news fast
- Get some exercise
- Connect with people in a safe way
- Confide in people you trust and/or share an experience with
Who to connect with:
- Connect with people who uplift you, and/or share values or experiences
- People who have healthy habits
- Supportive people
- Avoid toxic relationships where possible
How to connect?
There are many creative ways to socialize safely. Everyone’s comfort level is different. Respect other’s needs as you don’t know their risk factors nor the risk factors of those they live or associate with. Asking about a person’s comfort level is a sign of respect and builds mutual trust as well as bonds.
Here’s what others have done:
- Netflix party can synchronize watching movies together. Use in Chrome browser
- Online games- Steam has remote ways of playing together
- Collaborate on a music playlist
- Get together outdoors or indoors at 6 feet apart
- Sit in your parked car 6 feet apart
- Zoom, Facetime, Skype, Social media (stay away from the haters)
- Online group exercise programs
- Virtual happy hours, class or family reunions or tours
- Watch concerts online together
- Travel virtually and watch a travel show together
- Have discussion groups on art, music, books
Keep in mind that this pandemic like all others will end. While we don’t know what the future will look like, maintaining social connections is vital to your health. It doesn’t matter how. While these virtual and distance connections are less satisfying than the closeness and physical contact of the past, know it’s the connection that is the critical factor. Know that this will pass. If you are longing for connection with people who want to optimize or maintain health, join our private Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/VibranceForLife