Human connection has been impacted in ways we never could’ve imagined by the pandemic. As we move into our third year of living with COVID, we’re consistently having to physical distance and isolate from each other, as well as having to up our screen time to maintain any sense of connection.
Not ideal considering humans, by nature, need connection and that social contact is crucial for our well-being, whether we need a little or a lot.
But, now that we are allowed out more for IRL interactions, we can’t expect everything to be smooth-sailing. “Every time we have to recalibrate to new rules and restrictions it takes emotional, mental and physical energy to adapt,” says counsellor and meditation teacher Kimberley Lee. “Just when we’ve started to manage our anxiety about isolation and created an iso routine, restrictions change.”
Lee notes that while our nervous systems quickly adapted to the contained, predictability of iso life, now that we’re allowed out for in-person interactions, there’s a lot more for them now to assess and adapt to, including noises, colours, sounds, smells, other people and collective energy.
“It takes time to find a sense of grounding in what seems like chaos when compared with isolation and the limited stimulus we’ve spent months getting used to,” she says.
If the above has piqued your interest in how to foster meaningful connections, or you’ve been inspired to learn about them after watching Love Me on BINGE, read on. Ahead, Lee shares five ways we can work to foster that crucial human connection.
Be Aware of Your Nervous System
“Know that your nervous system will be taking in a lot more information and it could feel overstimulating at times as we recalibrate. When our nervous systems are on high alert, it can feel stressful as our bodies perceive all the signals as a possible threat, throwing us into fight/flight/freeze, or elevating anxiety levels.
“We can feel very anxious with a hyper-aroused nervous system, or crash into hypo arousal and withdraw. We want to be aware of what’s happening with our nervous system so we can take time to rebalance when we need to and remain in the moment and be able to enjoy what we’re doing.”
Connect With Others at a Felt Sense
“Connecting at a felt sense, where you feel your feelings in your body and not just as a ‘heady’ cerebral interaction, can help foster deep connections and help keep boundaries in place.
“It’s about being honest with yourself and open in your communication. Be aware of how your energy impacts the relationship and how you might be feeling and taking in other people’s energy. Or, if you’re feeling something is a little ‘off’, listen to your body’s cue and step away to give yourself space to process what might be happening and why.”
“Empathy allows us to hold space for others and their experience, which may be different or the same as ours. It fosters connection through compassion and creates space for non-judgemental, supportive interactions.”
Keep a Positive Attitude
“Keeping perspective of what we do have and can do, and finding joy in the small moments, will help us remember that there are things to smile about. It’s not about being happy all the time, but allowing yourself to feel positive through the heaviness of the pandemic. It’s okay to not be okay. But it’s also okay to be okay. It’s about being gentle with yourself and finding or creating sources of joy and things you feel positive about to balance the doom and gloom of living through a pandemic.”
Don’t Hide in Your Phone
“The intention of putting away your phone to be in the present moment has a different impact to ‘hiding’ your phone because it’s too tempting as a distraction. It’s making a conscious choice to be with/in the moment, rather than a punishment of forced confiscation.
“Being intentional is so powerful in building a sense of agency and feeling in control of the things you can control, which in turn helps build a sense of self. It’s also an invitation and commitment to self, rather than feeling as though you need to trick yourself into ‘doing better’, which can have a negative impact on self-esteem in thinking you’re not good enough.”