Social Distancing and Mental Health

College of DuPage Nursing Student Raul Garza wrote for Healthy Lombard that humans are very social creatures. We love to be part of a group or a community, it makes us feel a sense of belonging, that we are not alone. Whether it’s sharing a hobby with someone or simply talking about life with a loved one. The execution of stay-at-home orders and the recommendations of staying at least 6 feet away from each other has everybody very isolated. People now more than ever people are realizing how much they took social interaction for granted and how much isolation is actually affecting them. Physical interactions and large gatherings are not recommended due to COVID-19 being so infectious. People’s favorite stores are closed, theaters are closed, even parks are closed. Isolation and loneliness can negatively affect health.

Loneliness causes your stress hormones to rise. Cleveland Clinic states that “Cortisol can impair cognitive performance, compromise the immune system, and increase your risk for vascular problems, inflammation, and heart disease.” Not to mention the fact that loneliness can lead to depression and anxiety. Yes, we need to take care of COVID-19, but we can’t forget the mental health of the people. So, to prevent this from happening, let’s take a look at some measures we can take to minimize loneliness and isolation.

There’s plenty of ways to still stay busy and stay connected with loved ones and the world in order to remain mentally healthy. Phone calls are simple yet effective in combating loneliness. Hearing a loved one’s voice can release those much needed happy or feel-good hormones. Have an elder who is not technology savvy? Help them now that there’s time to not only help their loneliness but help them learn features on their phones such as Skype or Facetime. Which leads me to the next tip, video calls can be just as fun as in-person meetups. You’re in the comfort of your own home and you’re seeing the person you care about. Some are even setting up large calls to perform their orchestra practices online. Creativity being seen is incredible and very enjoyable. Social media apps are also a good method of keeping in touch with friends, family, and the world. The internet has never-ending sites to help you stay busy. Do you have a hobby? Great, so do millions of others who are also contained in their homes. Research websites that cater to your hobbies. If soccer is your thing, follow a soccer website and share your thoughts with all the fans that are sad the professional leagues are suspended.

With all this being said it’s also important to turn everything off and take care of oneself. Don’t get caught up all day sitting down on calls, games, and chats. Mayo Clinic News Network recommends to “Take deep breaths and stretch; Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals; exercise regularly; get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol” A sedentary lifestyle is not a healthy one either. Get up and moving. Clean the home, garden, cook, do squats while watching tv, get creative with it. We’ll get through this together, you don’t have to do this alone. Be social from a distance. Stanford psychologist, Jamil Zaki said it best, “We must do the right thing for public health and shelter-in-place now, but if doing so produces chronic, widespread loneliness, a long-term mental and physical health crisis might follow this viral one.”

 

References

 

Tips to stay mentally healthy while staying at home  – March 31, 2020

https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/tips-to-stay-mentally-healthy-while-staying-at-home/

 

Try “distant socializing” instead  – March 19, 2020.

https://news.stanford.edu/2020/03/19/try-distant-socializing-instead/

 

What Happens in Your Body When You’re Lonely? February 23, 2018

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