There has been a recent spate of discussion about the importance of Connection. Unconnected people feel alone, and lonely people, not surprisingly, don’t have as positive health outcomes as those people who feel loved and connected to the world.
It only took a pandemic and a bunch of people who were suddenly thrust into forced isolation to get this discussion going. Or, in other words, state the obvious.
Why is this? Well, even though I think we all understand this concept, we’ve all been too busy to develop the connections that we need to maintain our mental health and, by default, our physical health.
I lived through my “pandemic like event” seven years ago when I went through my separation. At the time, I found myself without the connections I needed not to feel desperately alone. I suddenly had way too much time on my hands without anything to fill it. My kids were now with their dad for fifty percent of the time, and I didn’t have a job. When I envisioned my future, it seemed bleak.
So, I used to spend my time feeling alone in the world with brief reprieves in the form of conversations with my busy mom friends.
With time and considerable effort, I started building the connections that I needed not to feel alone. That was this blog. I had found the cure to Loneliness!
Lately, pre-pandemic, I started feeling disconnected again…and alone.
I also felt extremely stressed out and wasn’t sure how I was going to make it through the next few months.
There is a link between these concepts: Stress + Connection + Loneliness.
I had worked hard at building connections, and as I made those connections, I fell into our current societal trap: busyness.
I am now living through an actual pandemic.
I have not gotten less busy as I still have kids to parent and a business to run. I still have more things to do than time to do them in, but something shifted when the pandemic forced me indoors.
I started working in reaction, aka triage mode. I was back in the land of uncertain futures, and so I decided that I would do what I felt like I had to do to make it to the next day. The government helped me with this by extending the tax deadline (though, today, May 2nd, I kind of wish that I had adhered to the original deadline).
I went back to my basic needs to get me through the day.
Feed children, feed me, which led to trips to the grocery store, laundry, outside time, and essential work that my clients needed me to do and asked me to do. And Connection.
I started contacting friends that I’ve meant to connect with for some time but hadn’t because I had been too busy. I held zoom calls with friends in the US and got to see their children who I hadn’t seen in over a year. I reconnected with friends from Australia. My good friend (who I haven’t seen in ages), made my children and me masks and mailed them to us. I had a two-hour conversation with a friend as we discussed her latest research. My workout group, November Project, hosted virtual Bootcamp, and started after workout coffee time (via Zoom). Before, we used to run off to work after our Wednesday morning workout. We maintained our annual Sunrise 6 KM run and ran it virtually and then reported back on our run observations. We celebrated a physically distant appropriate birthday by converging on the birthday person’s home dressed in costume.
I looked for opportunities to connect my children with their friends, which led to more connections with those friends’ parents. My kids figured out ways to communicate online with their friends and became closer friends with kids that they had only shared a class with previously. I reached out to my children’s’ teachers to offer help. I talked to my parents on an almost daily basis. I had a conversation with my mom, and she told me that if it were her time to go, that would be OK because she had a pretty beautiful life. I began writing more, and I started to express my thoughts and opinion more often than I had before. I started giving more time to the clients that needed my help. I asked my clients for help, too, while we figured out new processes to work together, and they obliged. A fellow soccer mom started running a weekly yoga class via Zoom that I have now attended three times. I think my ankle is finally fixed. I have gotten to know my cat, Luna, and my neighbourhood, really well.
During the past two months, my family and I have had the chance to deepen and strengthen the bonds we have with our community.
These past two months have been stressful and horrible on many levels. We are suddenly aware of all the ills of our society. We all want to get back to normal.
These past two months have also allowed me to re-establish connections and figure out what priorities indeed are priorities to me. I hope we can take what we have learned about Connection with us when we do get released from isolation.