Written by Heather Johnson, RN
Resource Nurse, Empira
How are you doing? Stressed? Anxious? Worried? Fearful?
It’s natural to feel this way under the current circumstances. The pandemic of COVID-19 is being broadcast everywhere on everything. As humans we also need to recognize and accept that everyone reacts differently. These reactions are based on your current circumstances, your mental health and your own feelings. Just know you are not alone. Or are you?
In a previous post I wrote about the need for social connectedness. This undeniable need for social connection is scribed into our DNA, it’s an innate part of our human existence. We need one another, and yet we are living in a time where social distancing is our new norm. This all seems counterintuitive to our nature.
So how do we balance the need for social distancing while preserving and supporting emotional health and our need for human connectedness at the same time?
The reality of it is, for most of us this is uncharted territory and we are unsure.
Emotional connectedness is subjective and is created when two or more people come together and create a bond over similar emotions. It’s a tie with someone who you share a particular set of emotions even if those emotions and feelings are anger, sadness, sorrow, joy, love or a thousand or more emotions that humans experience. The sharing of our emotions with one another provides us with the opportunity to create relationships. It allows us to bond over and to process what is happening while creating an understanding that we are not alone.
As a society we are bombarded with information about precautionary hygiene practices and social distancing, and as a nurse, I can fully embrace the heightened awareness and education to support physical health. As a late life care nurse, a mother, a daughter, a wife, a sister, a niece, a community member, and a friend, I also think about the added need for individuals to understand just how important our emotional health is. It is crucial in maintaining our physical health. Our physical and emotional health are intertwined and you need to take care of both to be healthy.
How then do we move forward in the coming days and weeks following social distancing guidelines without compromising emotional connectedness?
Here are a few strategies to support emotional connectedness while keeping your distance.
• Make and maintain eye contact with those around you.
• Use a hand wave to say hello or goodbye.
• Nod your head as you walk by one another.
• Listen to what others are sharing, and pay attention to their emotion.
• Put yourself in their shoes, empathize with what they may be feeling.
• Have genuine conversations. Make a phone or video call to a friend or family member. (Your grandparents need you now more than ever!)
• Email or write a letter.
• Share a simple smile with someone. (Did you know that the more you smile, the more intelligent (and better looking) the other person will perceive you as? And, chances are they will smile back!)
Remember: Emotional connections are the one thing that connects us all!
Please be safe and stay healthy!