Staying Connected When Disconnected

During these current unpredictable times of COVID 19, staying connected has been more important than ever. We as human beings have a natural need for connection that shows up in many ways in our lives. From the underlying needs associated with driving behaviors to our casual desire to spend time with our loved ones, connection is a relatable need. Yet feeling disconnected is something which plagues so many people.

Feeling disconnected can have many origins. We feel isolated when we are depressed. We feel barriers between us and other people when we are anxious. Traumatic experiences cause us to feel hypervigilant around people or make it difficult to trust. Ambivalent or anxious attachment styles from caregivers during childhood lead to feeling as though we cannot have healthy connections with others. Regardless of why we feel disconnected, it is a common experience for many people. We can even feel lonely in a room full of people (although chances are, we have not had the opportunity to be in a room full of people since the pandemic started).

Prior to COVID 19, many of us met our needs of connection through social gatherings. From holiday get togethers to coffee dates to book clubs to yoga classes, we all have our preferred forms of connection. Since COVID-19, we have become resilient and creative in finding ways to get out needs met. With state protective measures vacillating in response to cases spiking, it is important to consider the ways we can continue to meet our needs for connection to feel fulfilled during the pandemic, or in anticipation of a post pandemic world.

Here are some ideas to nourish connection during a pandemic, or any time:

  • Schedule face time dates with a close friend or phone calls with a family member you do not want to lose touch with. Block out at least one hour in your schedule to catch up.
  • Schedule video hang outs with multiple friends across multiple locations and engage in a happy hour, dinner date, or a game. There are many online games available that can be played with multiple players across various locations. Watch a movie or show together through video sharing platforms.
  • Write letters to friends or loved ones and send them via postal services. It can feel rewarding to receive a handwritten letter from a loved one and become a cherished sentimental object in the future. Send thank you cards for Thanksgiving and holiday themed cards during December.
  • Journal about your favorite memory with a friend or a family member from your childhood. Write out all the details you can remember including your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations that you can remember from that time. Meditate on this experience.
  • Create a playlist that makes you think of a person you wish you could spend time with in person. If possible, ask this person to contribute to the playlist. Play the playlist while enjoying that person’s favorite food or light a candle of that person’s favorite scent. Journal about how that person makes you feel to increase feeling connected to them.
  • Practice self-massage, yin yoga restorative poses, or progressive muscle relaxation to promote physical connection needs being met.

Try to listen to your inner intuition and hear what type of connection it is that you are truly needing in that moment. Like many other forms of coping, connection building is something that is not one-size-fits-all. It is important to match the activity with the unmet need to feel fulfilled.

Alejandra Rose, LMFT

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