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How to Stay Connected to Each Other in a world of Social Distancing and Masks

“Humankind is genetically wired to seek out connection and contribute to each other’s wellbeing. The bonds between us have defined our families and communities since the beginning of time. With the threat of COVID-19 shutting down not just communities, but entire countries, we are tasked with finding new ways to connect and contribute.” – Julie Ruffo

It is now common knowledge that science has proven mammals are wired for connection. It is essential not just to our wellbeing and health, but to our literal survival as a species. So how do we ensure we don’t fall into the pitfalls and hazards of isolation and loneliness when we are being mandated by our government to stay home and stay six feet apart? We get creative, adaptive, intentional, and flexible.

“Given the negative outcomes associated with social isolation and loneliness, it is not surprising that a recent review of studies on the psychological impact of quarantine reported negative outcomes including post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion and anger- A lack of sufficient connection is dangerous because social connection is a primal human need – Most important at this present time is the finding that social connection appears to improve performance of the cardiovascular, endocrine and immune systems, all of which could help people reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 and, if they contract it, provide physical and emotional resources to fight the virus.” – Michael Lee Stallard

Connection is part of what makes us human, and can even help fight the Corona Virus! We often view connection in the lens of being on the receiving end, such as we are receiving someone’s friendship, support, companionship, etc…But connection is also about giving!

“In a connection culture, however, people care about others and invest the time to develop healthy relationships, reaching out to help others in need rather than being indifferent to them. In a connection culture, people are more likely to communicate, collaborate, cooperate and work together toward a common goal.” Michael Lee Stallard

Being of service is actually beneficial for everyone. Both the giver and receiver are gifted all the lovely nerurochemicals that lead to and enhance positive feelings and brain chemicals.

During this time of physical isolation, reaching out and being of service to build connection can come in a myriad of ways. Why not pick up extra groceries for people in your neighborhood? How about writing letters to loved ones, or leaving anonymous notes/drawings/flowers/gifts for strangers on your street or in your building? If you are a performance artist, how about offering a Zoom concert for a nursing home? There are also nonprofits around the world that need support now, see what sparks your interest and volunteer! That satisfaction and benefit will be mutual.

“When we contribute to others’ wellbeing, we create a sense of wellbeing within ourselves.“

Julie Ruffo

Body Language is an unconscious and conscious way we communicate with each other.

“The world doesn’t seem as friendly when it’s filled with people wearing masks. We gaze at strangers’ faces to gauge their intentions, so when the nose, mouth, and chin disappear behind a covering, many clues vanish with them. If a person is friendly, will you recognize it? If you smile, will he or she know it? The answer is yes – it’s still worth it to smile while wearing a mask, said body language expert Janine Driver, founder and president of the Body Language Institute in Washington, D.C.” – A. Pawlowski

Similarly, looking into each other’s eyes during conversation is a direct connection to the brain that signals the parasympathetic nervous system to turn on, and the sympathetic nervous system to turn off. In other words, we move from fight/flight/freeze to protect and connect, or tend and befriend. We feel heard, understood, and resonant with each other, even from 10 feet away or more with masks on!

Another way we communicate openness is with our posture. Crossing our arms over our chest, hunched shoulders, and turning away from each other all signal unfriendliness. When we receive signs of unwelcome, we lose our sense of belonging and safety in the world. In this scary time when we are all protecting ourselves from the spread of germs, we can be creative with how we signal that people are welcome in our presence. A smile over our masks, a friendly wave, a hello to a stranger, a nod of the head, and an open posture all communicate warmth and welcome. We don’t have to put ourselves at risk, to let the people we interact with know they are welcome in the world.

Be Present, even if you are connecting on the phone or Zoom. We can all tell, even if unconsciously, that someone is distracted when we’re talking to them. We have all fallen into the trap of so-called multitasking all day long. Checking texts while in a Zoom call, folding laundry on the phone, etc…but when we are doing more than one thing at a time, our attention is not fully present with either activity. Therefore the person on the other end of the connection gets half of us, and that leaves an impact. Similarly, even though we imagine we’re killing two birds with one stone, we are left depleted, fragmented, and unfulfilled as well. So next time you are on a virtual call/Zoom/meeting, try simply being present in your body through breath and awareness, so you can give your mental and emotional awareness to the person or people on the other end.

This pandemic has torn us apart in so many ways, but it has also brought us closer together. We can use the tools we have, to ensure that we and the people around us, are getting the connection that we need.

At the Strength in Motion wellness community, we believe in a mind-body-soul approach towards finding and sustaining balance. We feel honored to be on your path in some way and are here to support you in living to your greatest potential. Click HERE to find out more information about who we are and how we may be a support to you, and click HERE for a playlist to support your journey.

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