Effects of Social Distancing: How to Overcome Social Recession
The coronavirus is rapidly increasing far more quickly than health professionals could detect. It has affected countless lives and changed everyday living. People around the world started to cope with the new normal, that is, practicing social distancing. Yet, the effects of social distancing are no less harmful than COVID-19 itself.
Social distancing plays a significant role in slowing down and preventing the spread of the unseen enemy. Keeping your distance, along with wearing a face mask and washing of hands, saves lives.
COVID-19 spreads easily through close contact with another person. That’s why it is crucial to reduce the ways you come in close contact with someone.
The best way to do this is to stay at home as much as possible and avoid crowded places where it is difficult to keep your distance from other people.
While social distancing is vital (and beneficial), it triggers something else that we should not just shrug off: social recession.
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The Effects of Social Distancing
Students have transitioned from a brick-and-mortar school to distance learning due to school closures. Playgrounds are off-limits, restaurants are closed, and parties are canceled.
We also started to greet our friends without physical contact, which is punishing for people who are inclined to hug and cheek-kiss their friends.
As this pandemic continues, we can only expect to be in isolation. We won’t be able to go to cinemas, restaurants, and bars. And we will continue to bear the inconvenience of working from home (and not able to see our colleagues in person).
This is concerning not only because of the economic slowdowns but also because the effects of social distancing impacts our mental and emotional health.
Social recession is a downturn in social contacts. The longer we are cut off from society, the more it can affect us negatively.
For example, families cannot visit their elderly in nursing homes, children cannot play alongside their friends, and students will only get their diplomas via mail rather than spend joyous graduation ceremonies with their friends.
Social Recession Is A Serious Matter
Loneliness and isolation are just a few of the many effects of social distancing. Even before the attack of COVID-19, many people are already feeling lonely. For example, in 2018, the Kaiser Family Foundation has found that 22% of Americans felt socially isolated.
That same year, a Cigna study found that nearly half of Americans—about 163.5 million—reported sometimes or always feeling alone or left out.
Note here, you can feel isolated but not lonely, and you can feel lonely but not isolated. Regardless, both inflict harm physically and mentally.
Social Interaction Is Important
The harmful effects of social distancing are present when we do not interact with others. From the beginning, humans value social connection so much that the absence of it stresses the body.
When we are lonely, we are more likely to feel stressed. Chronic stress can cause more problems, including higher risks of inflammation in the body. This then results in diabetes, obesity, joint diseases, depression, and risk of heart disease.
Stress alone already causes profound health damages. We can only imagine the dual-threat COVID-19 has… it’s both isolating and horrifying.
The Effects of Social Distancing: Fight Social Recession
Social recession links to loneliness and feeling of isolation. It is worth noting, however, that loneliness is more than just a bad feeling. It affects our ability to perform tasks and declines our sense of fulfillment.
During this pandemic, everyone needs to do their part to flatten the curve. Social distancing is good—don’t get that wrong. It’s vital in preventing or slowing down the spread of the virus. Keeping your distance is good not only for you but also for others.
Yet, as discussed earlier, social distancing can also cause a social recession. People starve for human interaction, and our body tells us that we need it (just as how thirst and hunger signal the brain to drink and eat).
So not only we try our best to flatten the curve but also to fight the harmful effects of social distancing.
How can you overcome social recession now that other people retreat in closed doors?
Overcome the Effects of Social Distancing
Socialize with friends virtually
One way to overcome the effects of social distancing is to connect with the people you love—family, friends, and colleagues—other than the people you’re with.
Use video-conferencing apps like Zoom, Skype, or Messenger to communicate with them. It’s best to see them and hear their voice so you’ll feel a total connection.
How about a virtual lunch or coffee session? Spend at least 15 minutes a day to connect with your friends via video conferencing apps. It isn’t a lot of time, but it can help make you feel better and less lonely.
You can also play games with your friends through Zoom. PlayingCards.io offers tons of games you can play online with your friends.
Here are more resources to help you find games to play with your friends via Zoom:
- Trivia games – Random Trivia Generator
- Pictionary – Pictionary Generator (use Zoom’s whiteboard feature to draw)
- Charades – Charades Generator & Ideas
Remove any distractions when interacting with friends
The feeling of isolation is one of the many harmful effects of social distancing. Hence, when you have the chance to connect with your friends, make sure to make the most out of it and ensure your time with them is free from any distractions as possible.
When you’re with your family or friends virtually, focus on the conversation as if you are sitting across from them. Avoid peeking at your social media notifications.
We all know that technology isn’t a perfect substitute for person-to-person contact. However, engaging digitally with others can help ease loneliness. As much as possible, call your friends instead of texting them. Or, better yet, do video conferencing instead of phone calls.
If you’re a parent, make sure to take action on your child’s social contact with his or her friends. Talk to other parents and set up virtual playdates for the kids. This is crucial, especially if your child does not have any siblings to play with.
Enjoy your moments of solitude
Solitude is never equal to loneliness. Unlike loneliness, solitude is the feeling of being comfortable and joyful even when you do not have any company. But this can be more challenging than it sounds.
We have been closely attached to our devices even before the pandemic. We use our smartphones to fill our empty moments. And when we are alone, we think that spending time with the internet and our devices can cure our loneliness, but this is far behind the truth.
Although social media platforms allow us to communicate with our friends, technology, in general, can make us more alone as it inclines us to be more dependent on social media connections than real-life connections.
Instead of putting your devices close to your chest, put them away, and spend a few moments of solitude. Meditate, ponder good things, or go for a walk in nature.
Acknowledge the emotions you feel and count the things to be grateful for.
When we spend moments of silence, it helps us fight the effects of social distancing—loneliness and isolation.
Reach out and extend help
Instead of sulking over being in quarantine, reach out and offer your help. Helping others helps us build connections with them.
Check on your elderly neighbor and offer them your help. You can deliver food or do the grocery shopping for them.
Don’t forget to check on your family members. They, too, are victims of the bad effects of social distancing. They might be feeling unhappy, isolated, distracted, or irritated. Be considerable and mindful of their feelings.
Everyone must do their part to flatten the curve. Social distancing can save lives and, therefore, must be observed at all times.
But just as how beneficial social distancing is, it also takes a heavy toll—social recession is among the adverse effects of social distancing that we should not ignore.
The good news is that you can fight the effects of social distancing. Connect with your friends virtually, and make sure to remove any distractions when you interact with them.
Make the best use of your time by enjoying moments of solitude. And lastly, defeat loneliness and feeling of isolation by reaching out to others and giving a helping hand.
Keep at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance between others. When someone sneezes or coughs (or even speaks), they spray small liquid droplets which may contain virus(es).
When you are at least 1 meter away from them, you are less likely to breathe in the droplets they spray.
Social distancing for people with vision impairment is a real challenge. We suggest using longer canes and taking public transportation early morning or evening hours when there are fewer people.
Learn more by reading our blog post, Tips on Social Distancing for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
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