When we become anxious about a situation that is beyond our control, such as the pandemic, we can want to pull into ourselves, and this can lead us to become more isolated which is not good for us. In contrast, reminding ourselves that we are not alone and that we have connections to others, can help calm our fears. Interestingly, the world wide pandemic, in which all of us are vulnerable to the Covid virus, can be seen as a reminder of our interconnectedness.
Here are some tips for managing pandemic anxiety through social connection.
Connect with friends and family, providing support and receiving support from them. Dr. Shelly Taylor, a psychologist at UCLA, has done research on "tending and befriending." She has found that when we share our struggles and help each other, this sets off systems in our brain that help us reduce our fear, have more courage, become more motivated and have the intuition and self control to act skillfully. If you can't connect with "your people" in person, how about by telephone, video or social media?
Think about what you can do for others. We can feel helpless and small in a pandemic, and we may forget that others are struggling too. Taking action to help others, either through our work or by volunteering is one thing we can do. Even showing kindness to a neighbour or smiling at a stranger can make a difference. Acts of kindness benefit others, but actually have a positive impact on the giver as well. See my blog on kindness https://www.oceantidescounselling.ca/post/kindness-changes-everything
Go inside yourself to find connection. While we can't always connect directly with people, we can still think about all the people who care for us, and who we care for. Dr. Rick Hanson, a psychologist, author, and Fellow at the Greater Good Science Center suggests we can also tap into a felt sense of being cared for by others. You can do this by going back to a memory of when you truly felt cared for and allow yourself to re-experience the feeling. Or you can imagine what it would be like to be really cared for. How about imagining you are being hugged right now!
We are social animals and connecting with others in this time of uncertainty can make a big difference to our sense of personal security.
If you find you are struggling with anxiety, I am available https://www.oceantidescounselling.ca/