One of the hardest things about living during a pandemic and times of social distancing is the lack of human connection. The fact is that human brains are wired to connect. We need other people to fully enjoy life. And that sense of human connection definitely lowers stress.
Even introverts need human connection. If you’re doubting how “wired” we are to each other, consider this: Both laughter and bad moods are contagious. Yawn in front of someone and watch what happens. This occurs because of what neuroscientists call “mirror neurons.”
When we realize that even trivial interactions can affect a person’s physiology, we have to take it more seriously. For example, scientists can now show by brain imaging and other advanced technologies what we have known intuitively: rejection hurts. Perhaps this is why isolation and social distancing are so difficult for people.
How to Survive the Lack of Human Connection
So how can we keep the human connection going during these times? Hopefully you’ve gotten in the habit of doing daily or at least weekly video chats with friends and family. While video is a poor substitute for real human interaction, having familiar people to see and talk to, even on a screen, can help reduce stress.
Additionally, to combat the effects of isolation, it’s important to keep your mind strong. Practicing the three principles of positivity, choice, and reflection, as outlined in my book Live Without Stress, are essential.
- Positivity brings hope. In addition, positivity results in fostering us to feel valued, enthusiastic, supported, respected, motivated, challenged, capable, and proud.
- Choices are powerful. Either consciously or nonconsciously, people choose their attitudes and responses to any situation, stimulus, or impulse. So yes, you do have a choice in how you respond to the current situation.
- Reflection is a great strategy for handling stress. It is also the most effective approach for bringing about change because reflection engenders self-evaluation, which is both noncoercive and empowering.
Implementing the three practices until they become habits is the most powerful approach to reducing stress right now. So while it may take some time before we can all fully connect in person again, you can take some steps to lessen the negative effects of social distancing.
Tip: Human connection is vital. In its absence, focus on yourself and strengthening your mind and self-care. Doing so will greatly help reduce your stress.
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