The research is very clear on this: if you want to say psychologically fit, strong and healthy, you need to socialise and bond with others. This makes sense, we are social animals, and we need social contact. But what does this look like in a time that we have been asked to physically distance ourselves from others?
During mass emergencies, trauma, and uncertainty, social bonds have been found time and time again to insulate people from mental illness. Bonding with others has a range of benefits which improves our wellbeing: our identity is confirmed, we feel a sense of unity, purpose, love and support, we can distract ourselves with banter and make light of the unimaginable, and focus on what really matters our connections with others. With all that being said, here are some tips to keep in mind during these ever changing times:
- Talking to friends and family need not mean hunching over your laptop and staring at a pixelated image. Why not put on some earphones and walk around the house whilst chatting? You can be playing a game at the same time as each other, doing housework, or even yoga!
- When your brain tells you to hide in the corner by yourself and close off the world, you need to do the opposite! The depressive brain rarely makes sense, and you should feel free to ignore it! In fact in those times you should up the ante; phone people more, put on feel good music, stick to a good pattern of exercise, eating and sleeping. Speaking of which…….
- The brain rewards you when you are productive and stick to a schedule. Right now you may be tempted to radically change your bedtime and wake up schedule. Avoid this temptation! Get a friend to keep you on target, and together try to keep each other motivated. Consider wake up calls, and motivational texts to help each other put that phone down at night time.
- Make some great measurable workout and eating goals and reward yourself for meeting those goals. Which brings me to…
- Focus on something creative and hold yourself to it. Phone a mate and challenge them to see who can spend the most time self improving. Cook something new every day, paint, write! And keep yourself accountable by sending pictures of those awesome meals/terrible paintings to your friend.
Until we see you next time, look after yourself and remember physical distance need not mean social distancing.
By Dr Elio Martino, Registered Psychologist