In these times of turmoil, politics, and pandemic, we all seek connection. It is ironic that due to quarantines, partial lock-downs, and even the inability to hug family members, our relationships are going through times of challenge unprecedented in our lifetimes.
Positive psychology expert Jaime Weisberg believes that “the happiest times in our lives usually include other people.” I would agree. If I think back over this turbulent year, the worst part for me was the distancing from friends and family; the birthdays, holidays, vacations, game nights, and Sunday football gatherings I missed.
As a family, we have done everything in our power to keep family relationships strong, including Zoom calls every Sunday, because we know the risks of isolating one another.
As the pandemic swept across America in March 2020, Rush University Medical School stated that “chronic social isolation increases the risk of mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, as well as chronic conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. It also raises the risk of dementia in older adults.”
Please safeguard the most vulnerable around you. These people will never forget your act of kindness.
We Are Social Beings
Psychologist Anne Rufa, Ph.D., agrees with Rush University, “Humans are social creatures by nature. We’re not meant to lead solitary lives. It’s important for us to be able to engage, to share our experiences and feelings with others, and have them bear witness.”
As my own family has found ways to come together, I would add that it is essential to keep nurturing relationships any way you can. Remember that the ties that bind us can be strengthened even if we cannot strengthen them with a hug. For example, if your favorite niece is about to have a birthday, and you can’t celebrate with her, send her a cake, or cookies, or a singing birthday card in a gorilla suit!
Be sure to remember the special occasions of those alone, especially maintaining those relationships with those who may be shut-in or elderly. They don’t have to be relatives but neighbors, business associates, church members, and others in social organizations.
As much as we need to maintain the relationships we have with others, let’s also remember to keep the most important relationship of all, the relationship we have with ourselves.
The relationship we have with ourselves is more than necessary. It is, in many ways, sacred. Always remember to maintain your mental well-being. Go for pleasant walks in the park, neighborhood, or downtown. Renew hobbies. Communicate with everyone you value.
If prayer and meditation calm you and allow you to be more mindful, do so. If hitting tennis balls against a wall, going for a run, or shoveling garden dirt makes you happy, do so. If you bake apple pies and like to give them away, good for you (I’ll send you my address)!
It is vital to accept that these are challenging times. We’re all going through them. Though I believe that things will soon get better; and shortly be back to our old social selves, maintaining a healthy self-relationship is always important.
Are there relationships we don’t need? Interestingly, Psychologist Jaime Weisberg has this to say, “We should nurture relationships that are supportive, positive and celebratory and spend less time and energy on those that are dominated by negativity, gossiping or complaining.”
The relationships we bring into our lives define us. We must be mindful that those relationships empower us in good times and bad. As John Lennon sang, “We get by with a little help from our friends.”
Now, more than ever, we need each other!