Socially connecting with our fellow humans is not something that just adds richness to our lives, we actually need to do it. Social isolation can lead to underlying psychological issues becoming amplified or re-triggered, and it can add new psychological problems. Outcomes can include anxiety, depression, conflict, outbursts of anger, and generally responding uncharacteristically. Even though we are being forced to do something that is inherently not good for our mental health, we are fortunate that technology has given us the ability to effectively overcome this problem. Another important thing that can protect our mental health is continuing daily routines as providing one way to regain a sense of control.
The best alternative to reduce social isolation is through video conversations with individuals or groups. It is good to talk over the phone but it’s not as effective as we miss a lot of the non-verbals that enriches our communication. Text is okay but doesn’t seem to help as much and it often leads to people misunderstanding each other causing distress and conflict.
Start off by finding out what platforms your friends and family are using, is it Skype, Zoom, or apps such as House Party. It’s then about planning, making the effort to make regular video contact with people you are close to. Make sure you have quality and meaningful conversations with people you are close to so you can talk about how you feel about the challenges you are going through. Balance the conversations with some positivity as well such as what you both feel grateful for. This will be a massive buffer for you given how many are suffering right now.
The rest of the time have fun, laugh listen to music through the Vertigo app that streams with people’s premium Spotify. This can be like you are all chatting at your favourite club on a Friday night. Add Netflix Party as a Chrome extension and have a group of friends watch your favourite movies or series together. Explore transitioning your sex life over to video interactions. Adding some forms of exercise to your routine is important, you can do things like on-line exercise classes, meditation, yoga or just walking around your living space.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, down, having relationship issues, realise that this is natural during this time. It’s important though to realise that if you avoid doing something about it, things can feel worse quite quickly. We also offer phone/on-line counselling appointments with a psychologist. For further information call 3211-1117 or cfhp.com.au.
Lisa Kunde has ten years experience working as a psychologist with adults in both private and public hospital settings (oncology, palliative care, chronic pain, cardio-pulmonary, psychiatric and alcohol and other drugs units).