I miss my friends – having a beer at the local brewery, walking the dogs, or sitting down for a fun birthday lunch. One friend texted and said, “please call me, I need to hear your voice!” This social distancing thing seems very anti-social to me, but behavioral science proves that it’s not.
Some of my favorite friend activities can still be achieved, as long as both people keep six feet apart. It seems awkward, but you can still communicate with others while maintaining distance, and, for your mental health, it’s probably a good idea.
“Feeling connected is a universal human need to maintain emotional well-being. This is actually a perfect time for people to pick up the phone…video conferencing technology is not limited to business only,” said Christina Wong, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in California.
Wong suggests people schedule regular video conference meetings with co-workers or friends, and, participate in on-line church services. Try to strike up a conversation with a friendly face while taking Fido for a walk. Replace handshakes and hugs with heartfelt hand waves.
These practices may seem distant and unfriendly, but they still can help people to connect with others in a social-friendly way. Social distancing should never be confused with social isolation, according to Wong. Social distancing is merely protecting yourself from getting COVID-19, while anti-social practices could indicate a mental health issue.
“To hide, isolate and not interact with others for extended periods of time is not healthy. It is not selfish to maintain meaningful contacts and relationships: it is good mental health practice,” said Wong.
Unless you live alone, lockdown is not exactly an introvert’s paradise. Stuck at home, you are constantly surrounded by family members or roommates. Introverts are highly sensitive to blaring televisions, noise, and chaos. They also internalize struggles that other people face then bring those negative emotions to themselves. Wong says these issues should never be ignored.
“This is a common theme for people to talk about. It is also a good opportunity for people to share their concerns for others, particularly those who are in the high-risk group, or dealing with other stressors,” Wong said.
As we all ride this title wave together, the need for companionship has increased. So has the need for therapy. Some therapists offer telehealth and video conferencing sessions. If you decide to seek help from a mental health professional, be sure to check that their license is valid and in good standing by visiting either the Board of Behavioral Sciences at https://www.bbs.ca.gov/ or the California Board of Psychology at https://www.psychology.ca.gov/.