In the old days – circa 2019 – it used to be that many families headed out for a long-awaited vacation in early August before the new school year started. Well, as we all know, that was then, this is now. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, nothing is as it once was. The exotic trips you might have been saving for and looking forward to all year, have been put on the back burner for the immediate and possibly long-range future. Summer barbeques with friends and family have also been put on hold indefinitely, as have celebrations of all kinds, including weddings, funerals and welcoming new babies onto this planet!
Vacations and get togethers have been the glue that bonds friends and families together in shared experiences and now that has all come to a screeching halt. I think it’s fairly obvious that this is beginning to take a toll on everyone’s mental health.
Good Relationships Are Important To Mental Health
It’s a well-known fact that our mental health is intimately tied into our relationships with others. Prolonged or chronic loneliness is toxic. (Think about the fact that isolation has historically been used as a form of torture.) And according to some mental health experts, it is also well-known that good relationships protect our mental health and wellbeing at any stage of life. It has been shown that typically, those who are more socially connected are happier, physically healthier and live longer.
What’s becoming most important now is finding ways to not only maintain, but also strengthen relationships with close friends and family. We have to start looking for new ways to invest in our relationships and it is becoming more apparent as we navigate through this pandemic how important our investment in our relationships are.
Stay Connected Despite The Distance Between You And Loved Ones
It’s important not to let the pandemic create distance between you and the people you share space with. Give each other space, but don’t let emotional distance come between you. For other loved ones who don’t live under the same roof, try different ways to stay in touch. Use the old- fashioned methods like an actual phone call instead of texting. Computers are wonderful for virtual visits. And yes, I’m even suggesting snail mail to stay in touch. Hearing a friendly, familiar voice, or reading a message from people we care about, helps us feel more connected. This is important especially for people living alone, who may be feeling lonely, isolated and afraid about what is happening.
Help those less confident with technology. We don’t all feel confident or comfortable with video calling like Skype, Zoom and WhatsApp video but, as with phone calls, seeing a friendly, familiar face can help both sides feel more connected. This might be a time when younger people in our families can help older relatives to use the Internet. These may be some of the most cherished memories of shared experiences that will stand out years from now.
Make new connections. With so much more time on our hands and the boredom factor setting in with our immediate family members, some of you may want to reach out beyond the people you already know. Online communities are ideal for this and can be extremely supportive. Remember to be cautious though in selecting appropriate communities keeping in mind that they are not always safe places. There are a vast number of online communities out there and this might be a good time to find a few that appeal to you. You’ll find everything from general interest communities to more specialist communities focused on, for instance, football, particular health conditions, fitness, cookery, relationships and music.
We don’t know how long the need for social distancing and quarantining is going to last. So we really have to find new ways to make this new and unexpected situation work to our advantage as well as to the advantage of those we love even though we cannot be with them.
Please stay well. Stay safe and follow the safety protocols.