During the COVID-19 pandemic, our society has been invited to or legally required to manage a degree of social distancing in order to slow the spread of the virus. While we should comply with legal requests or demands to stay safe, we also need to find ways to continue social interactions. I would like to propose a few ways we can do this to maintain mental health and social functioning.
- Interact with your immediate family members
As long as everyone is healthy, being able to increase your interactions with immediate family members should be the first place to look for social connections. With children doing home school, and many parents working from home, we have more opportunity than ever to have meaningful interactions and spend quality time with family members. Although many of us will individually engage with technology, finding activities and ways to collaborate with one another can provide the social engagement necessary to maintain a quality state of mind. One of my favorite ways of doing this with my family is to play hobby board games like Pandemic!
2. Embrace technology for communication purposes
Although most of us are already familiar with a few ways to interact with others through technology, I would propose that as we increase the frequency and breadth of social connection through technology will improve our mental health and social interaction needs. Now more than ever, people are using text, email, video conferencing, forums, and other online formats to convey thoughts, feelings, and ideas ranging from hobbies, to local and federal laws, and even live workout groups.
3. Validating the human experience
Although most of us are working hard to comply with invitations or requirements to implement social distancing, we still have interactions with others on the roads, in grocery stores, or while picking up food orders or receiving deliveries. It is more crucial now than ever to treat others in these brief and distanced interactions with validation and recognition that we are all being impacted in similar ways to the COVID-19 outbreak. Taking a moment to acknowledge someone else's experience, even at a distance, can be reassuring and supportive for both people involved. There is something grounding and connecting that occurs for us when we realize how similar we are to others, and the COVID-19 situation can invite such experiences in a way that we would typically overlook or dismiss.
So please respect the social distancing invitation / requirements, however, please reach out to others in ways that are supportive, encouraging, and connecting as much as conditions allow.
If you, or someone you love, is in need of mental health services during this time of crisis, feel free to reach out to me to setup and appointment. I am offering HIPAA compliant TeleHealth services, so you can access help from the comforts and safety of your home.
Anthony T. Alonzo, DMFT, LMFT, CFLE