Have You Been Practising Social Distancing for Years?

“Don’t you think you’ve been on there long enough?” “Aren’t you going to come and join us?”

We’re quick to point out to our children or our spouse about their constant use of technology, “you’re always on that thing” but, what about ourselves? Are you able to exercise self-control? Has this been an ongoing issue? What about the justifications, “I need it for my work, I have to be contactable?”

Consider this, is it another type of inappropriate relationship?

Social distancing is a term that has become common just recently due to the current pandemic, but have you been practising this for years? I’ve seen many use it as a crutch, something to lean on when they feel a little unsure or uncertain, I’ll pull out my phone and bury my head so as to avoid eye contact. For some, it’s a convenient way of self-soothing in an uncomfortable situation, but when it’s used constantly and becomes a default, things have to change.

The value in human connectedness translates to lower anxiety, higher self-esteem and greater empathy towards others.

Positive relationships are vital for our overall well-being, they are one of the 5 pillars of positive psychology founder, Dr Martin Seligman’s PERMA model. Dr Seligman created the acronym PERMA – Positive emotions, Engagement, Relationships – positive, Meaning and Accomplishment. The benefits of positive relationships are many. We live longer, have lower blood pressure, boosts our immunity system and when you feel connected, you belong to something or someone. You have a better state of mind, you are more pleasant and generally more productive and easier to get on with.

The paradox.

In today’s fast-paced world, we have a paradox – we’ve never been more connected, yet more disconnected. The current circumstances where many of us around the globe are forced to self-isolate can potentially lead to serious consequences. Those among us that are social beings will miss the face to face closeness and interaction, and those that prefer solitude may become more distant. Below are a few ways of staying connected:

  1. Strike up a conversation with neighbours over the fence or across the balcony.
  2. Use a video platform to pick up on facial cues or viewable body language.
  3. Spend time delving deeper into conversations with your partner.
  4. Netflix party for chrome is a plugin which helps you watch a movie in real-time with a distant friend.
  5. Routinely, exercise.
  6. Mindfulness-based mediation.

The stress and anxiety associated with uncertainty will undoubtedly cause concern.

Let’s review your current circumstances, and if it looks dire, flip it. Look at what you do have, rather than what you don’t have. Viewing your current circumstance through negative filters taints the rest of your world view because you’re looking through those exact same lenses.

Do I have a partner, friend, or work colleague I can connect with? Do I have my health, physical, mental? Do I have a roof over my head? Do I have food on the table? Do I have money in the bank? Am I able to exercise, outside or in? Am I still employed or able to adapt my business model to meet the changing climate? What else do I have that I have overlooked or taken for granted?

Although the above may seem minor or insignificant, when you are in times of uncertainty, you tend to discount what you do have. ‘Affect regulation,’ is having the ability to regulate your emotional state. If your world is currently filled with fear, and anxiety and causing you to become emotionally reactive, replace that deficit world view with a sufficiency world view. I do have things to be grateful for.

The quality of a relationship relies on the quality of the connection. If you have a long-established relationship with a work colleague, friend or partner, you have some credit in the relationship bank. Using the banking analogy, if it’s a relatively new relationship then it’s important to spend time making deposits to build up a healthy balance, positive comments or gestures. More capital in the account, the healthier the account will be, you will start to see the interest. If you have a negative interaction, an argument or fight, only a small part of that healthy capital will be removed.

You matter to me.

If the distance is an issue, send a relative, close friend or a partner a text, email or video, letting them know they personally matter to you. You are thinking about them, be genuine and sincere.

The quality of your life depends on the quality of your relationships

Dave Crispin
Mental Health & Relationship Educator

Dave holds qualifications in Counselling, Coaching, NLP, Psychoeducation facilitation and Mindfulness and frequently speaks throughout Western Australia on issues related to mental health and optimal wellness. If you are interested in learning more about Dave and his workshops on Essemy, please visit this link.