💪IMMUNE RESILIENCE #16: CONNECTION IN ISOLATION
Immune Resilience#16: Connection in isolation: We humans are social beings, hard-wired for community and evolved to live in safe, small, connected and co-operative communities. We don’t like being disconnected, isolated and alone.
Social isolation is physically and emotionally threatening, research has found strong associations between measures of loneliness, physiological stress processes, and physical and mental health outcomes.
People who are lonely have higher levels of the hormone cortisol, an indicator of stress; show weaker immune responses to pathogens; and are at increased risk for premature death. Isolation can lead to depression, suicidal thoughts and other clinical conditions.
The Conversation, March 2020
Maintaining social distancing is critical to containing Covid-19... but it comes at a cost. How then, do we mitigate the fallout and maintain connection in isolation?
Connection in isolation
I came across a helpful post in The Conversation: Social distancing comes with social side effects – here’s how to stay connected, by the University of Washington’s Center for the Science of Social Connection…
As psychological scientists at the University of Washington’s Center for the Science of Social Connection, our lab studies social connectedness, why it is important and how to maximize its benefits. Our clinical and research experiences help us understand the side effects of social distancing and suggest strategies for addressing them.
Here’s what the article says:
We humans are social beings
Lonely or isolated people experience higher levels of the hormone cortisol, an indicator of stress. Isolation can also lead to depression, perhaps even suicidal thoughts.
Loneliness makes people feel more vulnerable and anxious about social interactions. The advice for us to socially distance and self-isolate may also elevate what is known as intergroup anxiety – the natural threat and distrust people feel when interacting with those who are different.
What we can do
While social distancing and isolation are in effect, there are things we can do to mitigate their downsides:
- Reach out: now is exactly the time to reach out to friends and family, and connect with them however we are able. We need to let people know we care – a phone call is better than text or email, while a video chat is better still.
- What we say when connecting also matters. Sharing our feelings, worries and anxieties can help – a problem shared is a problem halved?
- Human touch: if we’re distancing/isolating with people who are close to us and healthy, don’t forget the positive impact of a gentle hug, or holding hands.
Other ways to help connection in isolation
Other actions can help boost our (and others’) well-being as we adapt to a world of social distancing.
- Embrace, figuratively: be aware of our tendency to circle the wagons around our group. We’re not born with ‘fixed’ groups that we trust or distrust. These associations are flexible and change with context, so now might be the time to expand how we define our group identities.
- Be generous: giving to others in times of need not only helps the recipient, but it also enhances our well-being. If you’re going shopping for essentials, check with people you know who are more vulnerable and see if they need anything.
- Breathe! At this time of stress and anxiety, many of us feel overwhelmed and disconnected. A few conscious, gentle breaths can restore that connection, slow our minds and give us a degree of clarity and calm, even if only for a while.
The full article can be seen here.
Resilient health is holistic health…
Our health is in our hands … WE make the decision to create the lifestyle changes that bring energy, vitality and resilient health… so let’s take the first step, however small, and walk purposefully and consistently towards those goals.
This post is part of the Immune Resilience Series – with this series, I’m making a commitment to my subscribers to provide helpful, evidence-based information and insights into what we can do with nutrition and lifestyle medicine to build immune resilience – the capacity of our immune system to respond to external challenges (such as the Covid-19 pandemic) and return to a healthy state of wellbeing.
THE REAL FOOD SOLUTION
Our risk for contracting communicable diseases like the Covid-19 virus increases when our immune system is weak and a weakened immune system is largely the result of a less-than-optimal diet and an unsupportive lifestyle.
Even as we are experiencing this current crisis, we are also seeing underlying epidemics of chronic diseases of every kind – diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, degenerative, digestive and autoimmune disorders across the globe. These conditions too, are largely diet and lifestyle-driven and they are preventable.
We need to act now
We have robust science to show us that what we eat has never been more important for our health and, because all life is inextricably connected, for our planet. The Real Food Solution will help you to discover the power of real food as medicine for better health.. for you and for our planet.
Crises like Covid-19 are a test our humanity… let’s stop queuing up for loo rolls and start creating a strong, resilient foundation of immune health… together.
Stay safe, stay informed and get empowered, Izabella.