We’ve been told the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is through ‘social distancing’.
However, this expression can make us feel limited – particularly during this time of great uncertainty. It suggests we not only stay away from each other physically, but also isolate ourselves socially. And that’s just not the case.
In fact, at a time when our mental health and wellbeing are likely to be more fragile, social connection is more important than ever. And let’s not forget that emotions such as stress, anxiety and worry can be brought about because we can’t be near each other physically.
So while we may be taking physical measures to avoid contracting the virus, at what cost does this come to our mental health? There’s science to back it up too. In fact, caring for your mental health can also have a positive impact on your physical wellbeing.
By swapping in the term ‘physical distancing’, it tells us all that we can continue to be social, despite being in different rooms, houses or even countries!
The word ‘physical’ drives home that we’re referring to metric distancing, not our connection to the outside world – something that ‘social distancing’ may imply.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and other health experts have started applying this term as well, demonstrating the importance of using labels which accurately reflect their meaning.
Humans are innately social animals. That’s why during such extraordinary times, we need to practise social solidarity, not social distancing.
This means constructing our communities so that people help strangers and neighbours the same way they would friends and family. It means extending a helping hand to vulnerable people in the community. And when we extend kindness outwards, it can help us feel more socially connected, too.
It’s also a way of saying: ‘I know what you’re going through. I’m going through it too – and we’re all in this together’.
That logic leads us to a valuable takeaway from coronavirus (or any pandemic, for that matter): the widespread nature gives us something to bond over. And we can create humanity through likeness.
Stay at home. Wash your hands. No gatherings of more than two people. We’re all aware of the physical distancing guidelines. But how about social connecting guidelines?
Here are some ideas to help get your social blood flowing again:
It’s important to invest in and nurture our social relations when we’re physically distancing. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues during these times, please get in touch. Our trained psychologists are here to help – and available for remote consultations. Call us on 1300 995 636.