Physical Distancing and Social Connecting

By FCPS & Fairfax County Government
April 27, 2020

Social media and news outlets are flooded with heartwarming stories of connection in this time of physical distancing. Spouses visiting their loved ones with signs of hope and support outside of medical facilities...grandparents getting comfortable with Zoom platforms for virtual family gatherings...friends learning the art of virtual happy hours and playing games on Google Hangout. FaceTime has become the new mode of telephone calls.

With one-third of the world’s population under some kind of physical quarantine or lockdown, social connection has emerged as a top priority for people’s mental health. We are actually finding that there are some aspects of this unprecedented time to increase social connection. Some of which I have found are: 

Availability. In the past, I have sometimes thought twice about picking up the phone and calling friends or family members because I did not want to bother them or I think they might be busy. Not anymore. It is pretty much guaranteed that my loved ones are at home, eagerly awaiting my call for a break in their day. So I have picked up the phone more. When before I have just texted or called others, I’m FaceTiming them or scheduling a group chat on Zoom. Seeing my friends and family members in their space while hearing about their experiences during this time has put a smile on my face and helped me feel even more connected to them than before.

Shared circumstances. We are in this together. Truly. As opposed to co-ruminating with friends and family on the negative effects of physical distancing, one thing I have found helpful is being able to share and receive self-care tips and ways to occupy time at home. I’m now a part of a virtual book club. Friends of mine are sharing easy baking recipes and their favorite free online yoga or workout classes. Text chains include interesting documentaries or entertaining shows to stream online. It is helpful to know we are not in this alone and there are strategies to be shared on how to best manage these challenging circumstances.

I’m trying to use the phrase “physical distancing” to describe our current situation. There are opportunities right now for increased social connection. I know my social connection with friends and family has gone up recently and it has helped me feel connected to others and emotionally supported during this difficult time.

This post was contributed by Lauren Anderson, Executive Director of Josh Anderson Foundation/Our Minds Matter.

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