Updated: May 19, 2020
We're going to start finding peace in this storm by looking at our social wellness. Starting as young children we develop a social network with our family and then build into friendships. We learn the rituals of communication, and learn which people are safe, and healthy. We are born with a sense of needing to connect to a network where we feel we belong. We need to know who we are, because the negative or the positive thoughts can build our identity. We are created for community.
When I became a program director for a senior's apartment block I stepped into a building full of seniors who lived alone. They had their own apartments, and they had individual lives. Many had moved from small towns into our bigger city but hadn't connected as a community. As I began my programs, I focused on meeting the needs of the people - physical, emotional, spiritual, social and intellectual needs. I asked what they enjoyed doing, and we started having fun, creating crafts, book clubs, walking groups, hymn sing, parties and lots of laughter. A healthy community was born.
With our lives changing so drastically lately, many of us are missing the social aspect of our lives.
Without social wellness, we can become isolated. Social isolation is necessary right now, but how can we adapt to this within our situation. More than ever, people are connecting on social media, going "live" on fbook and other platforms. Churches are live streaming, families and friends are keeping connected on facetime and zoom. For those who are extroverts, keep connected! Phoning at least 1 person daily will help to keep a positive attitude. Hearing a person's voice or connecting live is so much more than receiving a text. For introverts, you may be enjoying this "tucked away safe at home" feeling, but do try to remember that those extroverts in your life needs you right now.
With families at home, there is a bigger challenge. The more people in the house, the more voices, the more noise, the more personalities trying to find their way through the changes that have developed. All these changes will affect introverts and extroverts differently as well.
Little ones are happy to be at home with their families. They just want to play and be creative, but with their short attention span it can bring challenges. There are even more difficulties when school is sending homework and the stress is felt by everyone. Give yourself time, patience and just do what you can. You're the parent. Home needs to be a safe place. This is a time to do what is needed, but have some fun.
There may be a teenager who hoped to graduate with friends in a couple of months. Of course, in the teenage life their peers are especially important as they develop their own unique identity separate from their family. This may be a good opportunity to spend quality time together and really share some ideas and hear about their goals and what's happening in their lives.
It's a good idea to have some kind of schedule that connects with everyone's needs. Include a quiet time as an opportunity for everyone to have some private space, plan meals together, and enjoy some fun time together. A family puzzle, pulling out the board games or a movie night with popcorn might be just the right activity to connect everyone together. Perhaps a family project would have a positive effect, like maybe baking cookies for a neighbor. This could also be a time to sort through toys and clothes that can be donated. Finding a purpose in the activity will provide the "feel good" emotions and your house will get organized in the process! A positive attitude can change the atmosphere. These changes have happened to all of us, and some may be having a more difficult time than others. That's okay.
Maybe you have a senior parent who is even more isolated and feeling afraid at home or in hospital. Even the short walk to pick up their mail, visits from homecare worker or weekly grocery shop will have been altered. Maybe a family member is ill and not able to take visitors. Is there a way to keep connected through facetime or phone?
We're all very thankful for the medical staff and front line workers who are the major social connection for our senior family members. There is a lot of power in a friendly face and a smile.
Socially, which voices are we listening to?
Our relationships with others affect our mood. Our kids, partners, co-workers, parents, siblings - they can all help us feel better or worse. Too much negative social media and negative news can be very damaging, as can too much chatting and gossip. With all the other changes, depression and anxiety levels can increase. Be careful who has the ability to speak into our lives. Life can be like a cruise ship. We can dock it, and we have a guest list. Sometimes we've got our ship tied to the dock with the platform down, and we've forgotten to check the list, allowing everyone and anyone to enter and speak into our lives. It might sound like comforting or kind words or even familiar. But we need to be careful, for ourselves and as example with our kids.
With this social isolation it's become an awareness of how much we need the social aspect of our lives in order to be whole. Our friends, co-workers and our families are a big part of who we are and who we will become. Be kind to yourself, being your own best friend. You know what you need!
1. Who is in your inner circle of friends? You spend most of your time with these people and allow them to speak into your life. (We become an combined average of those we spend most of our time with. These people have a huge influence on the amount of satisfaction you find in life.)
2. With current social-isolation, how can you make positive social changes in your life?
3. Have you noticed how social-isolation has affected people around you? How could you be an encouragement for them?
Please share - Thanks!