Wired to connect in the world of social distancing

By April 14, 2020Resilience

Research has found as humans we are hardwired to connect. The mirror neurons in our brains are actually stimulated when we’re interacting with other people. When you are talking to someone, the pathways in your brain literally light up to mirror the emotions and behaviors that the other person is conveying. Here is where the magic happens! It is with relationships that are able to change how our brain works. Our brain actually begins to synchronize with the person to whom we are communicating as our level of connection increases.  

So, what does that mean for us today? Studies show that stress increases greatly when our social bonds are threatened or severed. As the importance of social distancing and shelter-in-place is shared in the media, at our workplaces, and with family and friends, there is no wonder that our stress over the loss of connection is growing.  

It is often easier to talk about physical pain than it is to talk about social pain. So perhaps it is good to start there and just acknowledge it. We are in social pain. Social pain changes our motivational landscape and sense of hope, two things that are important to build during times of stress.    

So, what can be done? It is time to tap into our natural resiliency. It may sound simple, but I believe, and have seen over and over, that we can use the ordinary characteristics within each of us to create extraordinary results. This is natural resiliency at work.   

Here are a few ideas to get you started with increasing your natural resiliency:

  • Start a self-care routine and put it on your calendar. Take the breaks you need to care for yourself.  Self-care breaks are a simple way to mind shift and change how your energy is flowing.  
  • Make some simple lifestyle changes. I used to start each getting caught up with the news. However, I found that this was becoming detrimental, and that it was important for me to slow my news intake. Instead, I now read a chapter from a favorite book.  
  • Keep up the physical activity. During the first few days of my social distancing my tracker went from an average of 10,000 steps to less than 3,000. Today, I proudly do laps around my house when I am on phone calls!
  • Reach out and connect. Social distancing does not mean stopping social contact. There are creative ways to maintain connections. Perhaps by hosting a dinner party using Skype or having coffee with your colleagues using Zoom. Connection can still exist even when we are not in close physical proximity.   

This is not over yet. As we go forward, the pressures and unknowns will continue to mount.  Stress will still exist. However, developing strategies to enable us to become a little more resilient can help each of us to take the difficulties that lie ahead in stride, and to feel more confident in our abilities to manage.   

In these unprecedented times I trust that each of us can find strength, and courage, that we did not know we had. I love that I am hardwired to connect and I am committed to building my connections during this time of social distancing. I hope you will join me!

For more tips and advice follow me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CoachKippi.