In our current climate of coronavirus lockdown and racial disparity in the forefront of our minds there remains a lingering question as to what will our lives look like when we come out the other side.
Well, the answer may depend on what we choose to do in the present moment. Even people that consider themselves more reclusive benefit from the interactions with coworkers, socializing with friends, or community involvement. This has unquestionably become more challenging in recent days and the surveys are in; across all age groups social isolation is affecting cognition, depression and anxiety.
So? You may ask, won’t this just completely subside when I go back to work, begin traveling again, and resume daily activities? Unfortunately, it’s not quite that cut and dry. Prolonged stress has long-term effects on our brain chemistry and this is the reason we must act NOW. On the upside, social isolation for the population at large has forced organizations, technology companies, and social groups to rethink the format in which we interact. On the most basic level simply picking up the phone and talking to a family member, colleague, or reconnecting with the college roommate you’ve been meaning to call for the last umm…five years can lift up your day and break the monotony. Free video calling is widely available through different platforms, sometimes with the option to have multiple callers. By setting up ‘appointments’ to interact you’ve given yourself something to look forward to and a routine to help track the time.
The point is, YOU need to initiate and seek out these events because social occasions no longer just fall into our laps. Well, what about the community? Challenging times can lead to monumental shifts in community organization. Locally, Brookline High students have created a network of companions for seniors battling loneliness (information below). Whether you are volunteering or receiving services, the message remains the same: WE can be there for one another. This message carries over to the broader Boston community with virtual fundraising walks such as the Walk for Hunger or Jimmy Fund Walk (October 4th). A recent study suggests that online community engagement promotes social well-being. The caveat here is to be selective and use your time to promote a cause, religious institution, or organization YOU are passionate about. Rather than anticipating how our lives will look in the future, we can begin to lay the groundwork for the future we want by acting now, preserving our mental health and promoting positive change within our community.
Friedler, B., Crapser, J., & McCullough, L. (2015). One is the deadliest number: the detrimental effects of social isolation on cerebrovascular diseases and cognition. Acta Neuropathologica, 129(4), 493+. Retrieved from https://link-gale-com.ezproxy.bpl.org/apps/doc/A430189112/HRCA?u=mlin_b_bpublic&sid=HRCA&xid=54827ab5
Han, J., Jun, M., & Kim, M. (2019). Impact of online community engagement on community loyalty and social well-being. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 47(1), 1+. Retrieved from https://link-gale-com.ezproxy.bpl.org/apps/doc/A574566542/HRCA?u=mlin_b_bpublic&sid=HRCA&xid=def59e85
Smile, S. C. (2020, May 25). Supporting children with autism spectrum disorder in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal, 192(21), E587. Retrieved from https://link-gale-com.ezproxy.bpl.org/apps/doc/A624517430/HRCA?u=mlin_b_bpublic&sid=HRCA&xid=39140361
For more information, email [email protected] or call (617) 651-1889. You don't have to live in Brookline to participate and right now, there is a waitlist of student volunteers ready to be paired with senior citizens.