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Over the last few months, COVID-19 has made unusual behaviors our new normal, and our old practices have faded into distant memory. While, social distancing has slowed the spread of the virus, its full impacts on our mental health is just now coming to light.

Understanding the impacts social distancing has on how we connect with our loved ones is something Brain Forest Centers has been helping patients overcome in recent months. Humans are naturally social creatures, and our lack of social interaction can have a significant impact on our mental and physical health. If you’re looking for more support and resources, here is what you need to know about the importance of staying connected during social distancing.

The Impacts of a Social Distancing

According to the American Psychological Association, social distancing and being isolated from friends and family can have the same health impacts as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. With many of us maintaining our distance, it’s not uncommon for loneliness to kick in and take its toll, especially since there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Many people might start to lose their sense of purpose and feel a disconnect from friends and family.

Over the last several months, many people have experienced some, if not all, of the following effects of social distancing:

  • Depression
  • Impaired decision making
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Poor cardiovascular function
  • Impaired immunity

Depending on the physical health of individuals before isolation and social distancing, some might even have an increased risk of stroke, dementia, or coronary heart disease, making connections during social distancing that much more essential.

Social Interactions Keep Us Healthy and Productive

The old ways of interacting are long behind us. We’re no longer embracing each other in hugs as often, we’re standing six feet apart, and we’re dining at restaurants with limited capacity and at designated tables.

Still, staying connected while social distancing can help keep us healthy, reduce stress, and improve productivity. Research has shown that social interactions can help reduce the stress hormone and flood our systems with oxytocin. A surge of this “bonding hormone” can make us feel secure, supported, and connected with those we love. For those going back to work, reconnecting with friendly faces, work teams, and managers can inspire productivity and creativity and positively influence the feeling of belonging, even while keeping a distance. The simple act of going back to work and collaborating with our co-workers in person can have a dramatic effect on our social well-being, especially after being disconnected for so long.

Ways to Stay Connected While Social Distancing

Social distancing has forced everyone to get creative with social connections. Some communities and neighborhoods around the country are noticing a shift in how they interact with their neighbors. Many see a slowed way of life and are getting back to a simpler time when connection with neighbors and immediate family was a priority.

Additionally, technology continues to play a role in staying connected while social distancing. Many people are enjoying more virtual game nights, Zoom interviews and trainings, and meetings with co-workers. These small virtual interactions may not seem like much, but for those still in isolation, they can be extremely beneficial and allow people to satisfy their social needs.

Make Mental Health a Priority

Your mental health has a significant impact on your physical health, and vice versa. When an imbalance in our daily routines and social interactions is interrupted, health can deteriorate, which is why staying connected while social distancing is essential. If you’ve tried to stay connected with your regular social circles but are still struggling with anxiety or depression, let Brain Forest Centers help restore balance to your mind. Visit us online or contact us for a consultation.