Let’s first look at the science of the necessity to connect with others. The Social Baseline Theory, developed by James Coan, posits that social contact and relatedness-rather than isolation and aloneness -are the natural or "baseline" conditions of the human brain, and that individuals' proximity to and interaction with others serves to regulate important aspects of the neural response.
SBT suggests the human brain expects access to social relationships that mitigate risk and diminish the level of effort needed to meet a variety of goals. This is accomplished in part by incorporating relational partners. By contrast, decreased access to relational partners increases cognitive and physiological effort.
These relational partners can be a spouse, a friend, some kind of significant other. When we have someone or someones we are close to, it has a positive effect on our physical health, emotional health, ability to regulate stress. When we are isolated, our immune systems weaken, it takes more effort for the brain to regulate stress. People can and do adapt to times when a partner of some kind is unavailable. It does take more effort and the development of strategies for coping.
Because our brains are hard wired for social connections and relationships, it is essential to find creative ways to connect while we are sequestered. Here’s where the up side of social media comes in. We are fortunate to have this technology which can help mitigate the isolation. Besides texting, e-mailing, phoning , video chats (the latter 2 being the more important), we have access to some of the amazing things people are posting or uploading. There are music lessons, cooking lessons, a variety of art projects, musical performances. The list goes on and on.
Checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram 300 times a day, passes the time away, but we need to have a more purposeful day. There are 2 things that make a difference. They are structure and imagination. Structure refers to maintaining some sort of routine every day. For instance, arise the same time every morning, make the bed, do your hygiene rituals, have breakfast, meditate. Do whatever works for you as a general routine that gives structure to your day. Then use your imagination to fill in the blanks.
It is important to set goals for each day. This might be the opportunity to Marie Kondo one of your rooms. You might experiment in the kitchen. Confiscate a child’s water color set and try your hand at painting. There are a gazillion possibilities. The goal needn’t be anything monumental. Start very small if that is more comfortable. Play with it. Have fun. Let your imagination run amuck.
Stay optimistic. Phone or video chat with someone every day. Stay in the present, taking one day at a time. Include gratitude. Humans are naturally resilient. We will all get through this together.
Comments are welcomed.