By Dina Evan, Phd Personally, I don’t believe we will ever see a time as trying and lonely as this and this era. Covid has somehow whittled away...
By Dina Evan, Phd
Personally, I don’t believe we will ever see a time as trying and lonely as this and this era. Covid has somehow whittled away our family ties, brought fear to travel, worn us down and left us in the silence, hearing just the echo of alone.
According to the American Psychological Association, social distancing and being isolated from friends and family can have the same health impacts as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. With many of us still maintaining our distance, it’s not uncommon for loneliness to kick in and take its toll, especially since there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight. Are we getting to accustomed to it? Is this the new norm? We hear things are letting up even as the number of cases are increasing in many places. Who is right? And what it is doing to our sense of connection and our humanity?
Are we beginning to forget there is only one of us — only one human family? Big stars, regular people, national leaders, political parties and everyday people of different nationalities and colors are turning to violence with words and actions to vent their frustration and feel power return.
Over the last several months, many people have experienced some, if not all of the following effects of distancing: anxiety, sadness, isolation, depression, impaired decision making, poor sleep quality, poor cardiovascular function and impaired immunity. The truth is we need each other! We need to know people care about us. We have to make sure we make heart connections, to keep our hearts open and healthy. Here are few suggestions from Psychology Today, and me, to alleviate the deep sense of loneliness and build social networks:
- Volunteer, even remotely. Serving others alleviates loneliness, anxiety and uncertainty. Sponsor someone. (Volunteer Match.)
- Don’t miss your meetings. Join other support groups with people isolated by the same issues. Start a support group online or in person with distancing and masks. (Search for groups, for example, on Meetup.com, 211.org, or Facebook.)
- Smile at someone in the grocery store, or help someone who needs it. It can be as simple as picking up a loaf of bread for your neighbor.
- Get support. Find people to confide in, such as friends, family members whom you’ve been out of contact with or therapists, coaches, or chaplains.
- Take classes or join study groups. Common interests, values, and passions start lively and meaningful conversations. You can also do on-line courses. Learning brings a sense of excitement back.
- Share your favorite uplifting media and start conversations about them—Spotify music playlists, TikTok videos, movie recommendations, podcasts, or books. Create a virtual book club or start a Facebook Watch party.
This is a great time to focus on important relationships. Go to my site DrDinaEvan.com to download the free Communication exercises and watch the free Communication and Ethical Boundary videos. Start talking to each other again. You’ll be surprised how quickly that puts the love, energy and fire back in your friendships and relationships again.
The truth is—we need each other to stay healthy and to feel life is worthwhile. It takes such little effort to reach out and each connection brings huge gifts to both you and the other person. We toss the word love around in cards and songs, but the truth is…love is all that matters. It is vital to our health emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually. When you are giving and receiving it, life becomes precious again and the real meaning of life returns, bringing a sense of safety and peace. You can feel that if you stop, sit in the silence of now for just a moment and feel the love that is always still here.
It’s not that hard to find someone to love.
He or she is standing right in front of you, beside you or through the two big doors at Costco or Target. It’s as simple as starting with a smile and a simple question…How can I help? And since there is only one of us…one big human family, for that moment, and in every moment that you do it, you and the person you help are both healed, and so is your part of the world.
You matter to all of us. We are creating the future together. What will it be?
Dr. Evan is a marriage, family, child therapist and consciousness counselor. She has presented nationwide seminars and workshops, written several books and created meditation CDs for couples, individual and mental health professionals. Visit drdinaevan.com or call 602-571-8228.