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Description: The requests and demands for social distancing in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic are new and novel for almost everyone. In addition, the novelty of this experience and the serious uncertainty about how long it will last and what it will involve is adding to our anxiety and potentially eroding our wellbeing. While we wait for our immediate futures to come into better focus, it may be useful to see what Psychological research can tell us about the nature and extent of the impact of isolation and about things we might do to lessen the impact of our isolation on our mental and physical health and wellbeing. No need to try to form your own hypotheses before proceeding, simply read the article linked below and as you do so think about what the research it describes might suggest that could be of assistance to you and to other you care about. Consider this a Psychological prescription for positive reflection and action.

Source: What Coronavirus Isolation Could Do to Your Mind (and Body), Emma Grey Ellis, Science, Wired

Date: March 25, 2020

Photo Credit:  Alf-Marty from Pixabay

Article Link: https://www.wired.com/story/coronavirus-covid-19-isolation-psychology/

A lot to think about, at a time when we may already feel a bit overwhelmed with all that is spinning around in our minds. The article linked above is one example of the sort of opportunities for focused thinking that could be of great assistance to us at times like this.  A large portion of problematic anxiety often involves tendencies to ruminate or to go around and around with possible futures, possible threats and possible negative outcomes. This tendency, unfortunately, increases when the possible paths forward into the future are unclear and changing. Focusing on our local realities and by thinking about ways in which we can connect socially with friends and loved ones using the wide array of online resources available to many of us serves the dual purpose of recharging our social contact needs and giving us something to do that is not ruminative – a research-supported double win. Psychological research will continue to provide insights into our shifted realties as well as providing us with ways of thinking about and problem solving in our current novel social realities. You need to do more research and the effort in and of itself will potentially be Psychologically beneficial.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why is social isolation such a clearly negative things for humans?
  2. What does the author of the linked article mean by the line “Be kind to your local extrovert. They’re having a hard time.”?
  3. What sorts of things are you thinking you might try and work on in your own situation that could help address the potential impacts of isolation for you?

References (Read Further):

Singer, C. (2018). Health effects of social isolation and loneliness. Journal of Aging Life Care, 28(1), 4-8. Link

Rohde, N., D’Ambrosio, C., Tang, K. K., & Rao, P. (2016). Estimating the mental health effects of social isolation. Applied research in quality of life, 11(3), 853-869. Link

Shankar, A., McMunn, A., Demakakos, P., Hamer, M., & Steptoe, A. (2017). Social isolation and loneliness: Prospective associations with functional status in older adults. Health psychology, 36(2), 179. Link

Holt-Lunstad, J. (2017). The potential public health relevance of social isolation and loneliness: Prevalence, epidemiology, and risk factors. Public Policy & Aging Report, 27(4), 127-130. Link

Vega, G., & Brennan, L. (2000). Isolation and technology: The human disconnect. Journal of Organizational Change Management. Link

Baecker, R., Sellen, K., Crosskey, S., Boscart, V., & Barbosa Neves, B. (2014, October). Technology to reduce social isolation and loneliness. In Proceedings of the 16th international ACM SIGACCESS conference on Computers & accessibility (pp. 27-34). Link

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