The Importance of Social Interaction in a Post-Pandemic World
For over a year now, individuals across the globe have experienced trauma, isolation, fear and loneliness as a result of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly everyone – in some form or another – has some connection to the coronavirus – from contracting the virus to social distancing to losing a loved one.
While the CDC’s new recommendation stating that fully-vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks (in the majority of situations) is certainly a step towards normalcy, many people are still grappling with anxiety, depression and a whirlwind of emotions as a result of the pandemic.
Between the lack of in-person interactions over the past year, coupled with feelings of isolation, reconnecting with friends and loved ones is more important than ever for maintaining a healthy psychological state in our post-pandemic world.
Getting Reacquainted with “Normalcy”
For the first time in ages, people are reintegrating themselves into society and connecting with those around them. However, resuming a “normal” life has proved to be a source of anxiety and depression for many individuals. Why? What we once considered an everyday routine has been vastly altered by shelter-in-place protocols and social distancing for such an extended period of time that simply jumping back into old patterns seems overwhelming.
Our daily regimens are hitting the reset button, and as we cope with how to function, it’s important to remember that we are all struggling with similar battles and no one has to face this new reality alone.
Cynthia Mulder of The Menninger Clinic shared, “People may experience a type of shock if they try to return to their old schedule. By resetting what we value, we find a new appreciation for what we no longer need and what helps us cope.”
The most crucial aspect of finding ways to help us cope in such a difficult time is via social connectivity and reconnecting with those we care about.
Social Interaction is Vital for Mental Wellness
During the pandemic, social distancing protocols completely transformed the way we work, travel and even interact with our families. What’s more, these measures have disrupted the way we connect and interact with others.
As naturally social creatures, we crave human interaction. Isolation and loneliness only serve to hurt our mental well-being. According to Psychology Today, “A meta-analytic review, which analyzed results of roughly 150 studies, underlines the relationship between loneliness on our health. It found a lack of social integration was more strongly associated with increased risk of death than were factors such as obesity or alcohol consumption.”
But while social interaction is important for our wellbeing, many people are finding the prospect of reentering the world both scary and anxiety-inducing. The good news? Feeling nervous, afraid or even guilty about reestablishing connections with friends and family is a perfectly normal reaction.
Reconnecting in our post-pandemic world is important – but that doesn’t mean you have to dive head-first into it. Make choices that are comfortable for you and don’t shy away from seeking the guidance of a mental health professional to help you take those first steps.
Some questions to start asking yourself include:
- What type of self-care routine will I follow to take care of myself? Whether that’s exercising, cuddling up for an hour a day with a good book, meditating or another practice that’ll help you establish mental wellbeing.
- How do I plan on balancing my time at home with social time?
- How should I schedule my calendar and social interaction time to keep my anxiety from bubbling over?
While we haven’t reached the end of COVID-19 just yet, with restrictions lifting it’s imperative to make an effort to reconnect with others. Staying socially and emotionally connected is an important part of maintaining a healthy mental state after such unprecedented times.
Looking for help coping with anxiety, depression, fear or feelings of isolation? At Hudson Psychiatric Associates, we have the tools and resources needed to help you reconnect with yourself and others as the world slowly begins returning to normal. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.