There are a range of measures people with existing mental health conditions can put in place to support their health and wellbeing through the COVID-19 pandemic. This article looks at the importance of maintaining connection with people we care about.
Humans are social animals. We crave connection.
As we spend more time in our homes, cut off from friends and family in a bid to stop the spread of the virus, the lack of physical touch can be mentally challenging.
For people who live alone especially, this extended lack of contact may be particularly tough.
But just because we’re physically distant from each other doesn’t mean we can’t still be emotionally close.
Maintaining regular human connection is more important than ever as we navigate these difficult times.
Psychologist Sabina Read said that while we spend time at home in self-isolation, it’s vital that we schedule in regular catch-ups online or on the phone.
To counter the loss of comfort that comes from hugs and physical closeness, she recommends putting time in your diary every day to speak to someone you care about.
“Touch is such a rich source of affirmation, security, safety and being seen for a lot of us. But there are other ways to manifest and nurture that without physical touch in light of the crisis that we’re in,” she said.
We underestimate the comfort that phone contact can bring - you can still feel a sense of connection and closeness even if it’s not face-to-face.
For those that have access to them, a range of technologies including Skype, Zoom, FaceTime and apps such as House Party allow people to connect in groups via video chat.
Consider scheduling your regular social catch-ups – whether it’s book club, trivia night, family dinners, dance parties or just evening chats with friends – in these virtual spaces.
“Think about what physical contact represents to you. What does conversation represent? What does eyeballing represent? All these things that are important to you, we can still have that intimacy, we just need to be creative and find other ways to connect,” Ms Read said.
For people living alone, the thought of not being able to hug another person for an indefinite period may be daunting but Ms Read said it was important to remember this physical separation is temporary.
Checking in with other people who may me feeling lonely, particularly the elderly, can be a good way to feel more connected and create a sense of community.
“When we think about how we can serve others in a positive way, it’s a good place to put our fearful energies. Can I call a neighbour? What can I do to help? There’s a lot we can do to help soothe each other and stay connected.”
Think of this time not as social distancing but as physical distancing. We may be physically apart but we need to stay socially and emotionally connected.
Follow the links below for more information on the other key measures Beyond Blue has highlighted that will help strengthen and support your mental health through the coronavirus pandemic: