High School Health and Wellness
Physically Distancing, Socially Connecting
Physically Distancing, Socially Connecting
I think it’s safe to say we’ve heard the term Social Distancing A LOT lately.
We’re told left and right to social distance ourselves, because our lives literally depend on it. But why use the term social distance? This term leaves people with the idea that they must stay in their home and keep to themselves, when in reality what we really need to be doing is physically distancing, and socially connecting.
Human beings are social beings.
We need social connections to thrive in life and keep a mentally sound mind. It's actually scientifically proven that stress levels are lower, and we are more likely to recover from illnesses when we are socially connecting with other people. It is quite literally a survival technique of ours. Because we can’t be together physically right now it is especially important to socially connect any way we can in order to keep ourselves mentally regulated. We must actively search for ways to socially connect with our loved ones, our friends, and our community. This is the time to reach out and get creative so that we can all truly get through this together.
Luckily, people all around the world have come to understand the importance of connection and make it a priority of theirs. If you haven’t already, it’s time to make it a priority of yours as well! Here’s how:
How to socially connect with those in your household
You might be thinking to yourself, “I talk to them every day, I’m already socially connecting with them!”, and while yes, this is true, it is possible and would be so extremely beneficial to take that connection a step further. What I mean by this is, intentionally connecting with one another. Take the time to focus on each other, and nothing else! Some ways you can do this are by cooking a meal together, eating dinner together, playing board/card games together, watching a movie, or listening to music and dancing together. Learn more about each other in this time, think of some interesting questions about likes, dislikes, experiences, and dreams to ask one another. Let the conversations flow! Keep the phones away, TVs off, and let yourself be fully present. Not only can you connect with each other in your home, but don’t be afraid to venture outside either! Go for walks, bike rides, or even hikes together. Make these activities even more interesting by doing a scavenger hunt (like this one from REI, or this one created in Oshkosh, WI, or even make one unique to your area) along the way! If you’re wondering where you can go for a hike, check out All Trails for all kinds of trails near you. You won’t regret getting outside into the fresh air!
A few simple ways we can socially connect with others outside our household
Shoot them a text message, though, phones calls are better, and video calls are best! Being able to hear a person's voice/tone/emotion is HUGE! Especially when we're able to laugh with each other; laughing is a crazy good stress reliever. We can also play games with each other (online video games, computer games, or even card games over video chat if you get creative). If you’re working from home or your school has you on a virtual school schedule, meet for a video lunch and eat “together” once or twice, or five times a week! Another awesome way to stay connected is by randomly sending each other videos or photos of things you’re working on in your life or home. Share work-outs, yoga routines, books, recipes, art work, and more with each other! There’s nothing better than being able to share experiences with one another, you never know what you mind end up learning.
There are also fun ways people are leading by example and connecting with their community
All around the world people have been writing messages to each other and placing them in their windows to communicate with their neighbors, even neighbors that they’ve never interacted with until now! Many people are also simply writing positive messages on signs for people to read as they walk by! Not only are there messages, but people are now making some sweet pieces of art in their windows or straight on their apartment/house walls and doors to bring a smile to the passer-byer’s faces, too. Check out Heart Hunters on Facebook for one awesome way to connect! There’s also been an incredible amount of sidewalk chalk sightings, which is so fun to see and even more fun to make! Another very thoughtful way people are connecting with their community is by tracking down the retirement, hospice, assisted-living, senior-living, etc. homes in their areas and writing letters to the residents there. The letter doesn’t have to be to anyone specific, it could merely read, “to the residents of ____”, and the letter doesn’t have to include anything specific either! Just a simple “hello, thinking of you” will do, though who wouldn’t enjoy a random story, piece of art, or photo as well? Get creative and make a friend!
Some important things to consider while social connecting
It’s important to note that while connecting with other’s on social media is indeed socially connecting, too much can me overwhelming and actually cause more stress and anxiety. This poses true with playing video games as well. Finding a balance between connecting via these realms and others is imperative to keep stress levels low. Our minds need time to relax, we don’t want to over stimulate them.
When it comes to interacting with those around us, what you say when connecting matters. We know this, but this is also why communicating can be so difficult and scary. It’s important to recognize that everyone has fears revolving around communicating in some way or another. No one is the perfect communicator and you should not hold yourself to that standard either. Don’t let the fear of talking about your feelings or the fear of not knowing how to respond to someone else hold you back from what could be a very helpful way to destress.
If you are stressed or upset, talking about your feelings can help tremendously. It may not feel like it in the moment, and maybe what you’re stressed or upset about will still be there, but you will feel less alone. Getting all that pent-up emotion out of your body will bring you a step closer to calm. If you’re on the receiving end of this kind of sharing, resist the impulse to compare, dismiss, debate, or tell them that, “everything is going to be okay”. Your role is to listen. Actively listen, affirm what they’re saying with paraphrasing, so they that you are following, and avoid offering a fix. Let them know that you hear them and are here for them. If you have advice to give, read the room and only give it if you feel like it is warranted. The process of one person sharing something vulnerable, and the other responding with understanding and care alone, is the foundation of a true, caring connection.
The power of human connection is truly going to be the life force that keeps us going through this time.
Let’s embrace it.
Let’s Physically Distance.
And let’s Socially Connect.
Stay well and keep sane, everyone!