Rebuilding Social Connections After Years of Isolation
The last three years have been a trying time for us all, with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing us to distance ourselves from those around us. Consequently, our mental health has taken an immense toll as evidenced by the Kaiser Family Foundation survey that found nearly half of respondents (49%) experienced negative impacts on their mental well-being due to stress and concern about coronavirus – even worse still, one in four reported serious emotional issues within their own households! Keep reading to learn more about rebuilding social connections after years of isolation due to COVID-19.
The Importance of Social Connections
Our evolutionary design has made us wired for social connections, which research indicates is vital to our mental and physical wellbeing. Astonishingly, a Brigham Young University study even states that “a lack of social connections can be as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes daily.” Thus, it’s clear how important developing relationships are in order to maintain our overall well-being.
Social connections are invaluable because they make us feel a part of something greater than ourselves. We don’t have to go through life feeling disconnected and isolated from the world around us; when we take the time to build relationships with others, it will give us both emotional security and support. Additionally, having quality social ties gives us an avenue for self-expression that helps us manage our feelings in constructive ways.
The Impact of Isolation on Social Connections
Isolation during the past year has been especially difficult for many of us and has taken a toll on our mental health. According to the CDC’s survey, an incredible one in four adults reported having symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder, and shockingly 10.7% admitted to having thoughts of suicide! It is clear that these concerning statistics are due in large part to social isolation preventing people from connecting with others – something so crucial for our mental well-being. We have been sadly deprived of vital in-person contact, which has put a strain on our relationships. Technology is fantastic for maintaining connections with those we love and care about but it can never fully replace the genuine physical and emotional support that direct face-to-face interactions proffer.
Rebuilding Social Connections
The good news is that there are steps we can take to rebuild our social connections. Here are a few ideas to get started:
- Take the initiative to reach out: Keeping up with family and friends has never been simpler than now. Whether it’s a phone call, text message, or video conference – take a few minutes from your day to stay connected with those you care about most. Show that extra effort in reaching out!
- Unlock the power of the internet: By tapping into online communities and forums, you can access a world filled with like-minded individuals. Exchanging ideas within these groups is an effective way to meet new people and build relationships, allowing you to explore your interests or even find solutions together!
- Volunteer and make a difference in your community by connecting with those who share the same beliefs. Utilize sites such as VolunteerMatch.org to locate local volunteer opportunities that are tailored to you!
- Seeking new friendships and activities? Become a part of the club or organization scene! There’s an abundance of clubs, organizations, and teams out there for you to explore. Pick one that speaks to your interests, so you can start making lifelong relationships with like-minded people today!
- Don’t hesitate to seek expert assistance: In the event that you’re encountering mental health difficulties associated with solitude, it’s essential to get professional help. Your main care doctor can refer you to a psychotherapist or advisor for more detailed treatment.
We may have faced hardships this past year, yet it is essential to bear in mind that we can recreate our social ties. It will certainly take some effort and perseverance, however, with these two traits combined, we can rebuild our relationships and offer assistance to one another once more. Dr. John Cacioppo — a preeminent specialist within the domain of social neuroscience — profoundly stated “It’s crucial for both our physical health as well as mental state that we don’t underestimate the significance of having strong connections with people around us.” As the pandemic begins to overcome its restraints on us, let’s make an earnest attempt at reviving those bonds which were lost during this time!
All in all, the last few years have posed insurmountable obstacles. Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that we can re-establish our social connections and foster new ones. It may be difficult at first but is essential for our psychological and physical health. Consequently, reach out to your family or friends; participate in virtual communities; volunteer your services; join associations and teams online or offline; Who knows? You might even need assistance from an expert along the way as well! By taking positive measures on how to reconnect with others not only through a challenging year but also beyond strengthens us even further enabling us to become more tenacious than ever before.
What steps will you take to rebuild your social connections after isolation? Let us know in the comments below!
See Also: Why Friendships Are Important for Mental Health Post-Pandemic