Given the signs of the times with covid-19, social distancing is the new normal at least for now. While I am supportive of the steps our government is taking to combat this epidemic, it is important to be aware of the consequences of ongoing social distancing.
When we are isolated, the same part of the brain lights up as when we are being stabbed. Isolation easily triggers stress, as does telecommuting (I read the other day that we are working 3 hours more on average by working through zoom and other online options), helping to suddenly homeschool children and frequent blurbs on social media about death tolls, susceptibility and other hardships. Stress works on our fight-flight-freeze neuropathways and, when frequently triggered, can cause problems both physically and mentally.
Frequent living with this part of ourselves dominant leads to depression and anxiety from the duress. Living under frequent duress feels terrible and eventually prompts us to seek numbing or release, which can prompt us to turn to things like alcohol, drugs, pornography, self-injurious behavior or gambling. The more we turn to these things, the more likely we are to turn to them in the future.
There is something about connection, meaningful interaction with other people, that helps take us out of that survival mode and helps prevent us from turning to problematic or addictive behaviors. I encourage all of us, myself included, to get creative in order to interact with people. My wife and I visited with some friends outside, shared pie and socially distanced. Afterwards they texted and said “thanks, we didn’t know how much we needed that.” The other day we were blessed when another married couple rang our doorbell with a present for my wife and we stayed six feet apart and caught up for a while.
Whether its through zoom, visiting outside, texting, snapchat, mailing letters or presents, we need one another. Now, arguably, more so than ever. Self-care is most important when we are most stressed. Make the time and if you need help, give me a call: 978-536-1056.
I help people who struggle with drinking or using drugs find a life worth living. Helping people thrive in Milford, Franklin, Medway, Uxbridge, Bellingham, Mendon, Whitinsville and surrounding towns.