We, by our very nature, are social animals. So, for most of us these last two years have felt unnatural to say the least.
We miss spending time with our friends in the same way we used to. The travel planning needed to visit far-away family has made it challenging given the unpredictability of the pandemic. And we’re all exhausted trying to predict the future.
If it’s of any comfort, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. The entire planet is feeling the drain. And in that way, we are probably more connected than we realize. We have a common goal – survive the pandemic.
So even though we aren’t able to see all those we want to see in person, it’s still vital that we stay connected, if not for our own mental wellbeing, but for that of the other person as well.
I’ve found that connection is one of the best antidotes for the feeling of isolation, especially in the winter when it’s colder and darker.
So, here’s my 2022 challenge for you.
Make a list of all the people who you haven’t connected with in a while. Then make a commitment to reach out to one different person on your list every week. Not just an email or a text but try to set up a virtual call or at the very least a telephone call. And for those who you can’t call or Zoom, send a letter letting them know you’re thinking of them.
And if you have someone in your orbit who has lost a spouse, or recently divorced, make sure to reach out to them. The abruptness of being alone can be particularly disabling, not just for their mental and physical health. Here’s what I mean.
In Chapter 87 of Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s book Keep Sharp – Build a Better Brain at Any Age, he speaks about the importance of connection for “protection” of brain health and says that “There is plenty of science to back up the fact we need social connection to thrive, especially when it comes to brain health. A look at the data shows that enjoying close ties to friends and family, as well as participating in meaningful social activities, may help keep your mind sharp and your memories strong. And it’s not just the number of social connections you have. The type, quality and purpose of your relationship can affect your brain functions as well. Even your marital status affects your risk.”
Gupta tells about a research study at the Michigan State University that found that “married people are less likely to experience dementia as they age, and divorcees about twice as likely as married people to develop dementia.” The research also found that “widowed and never-married people have risk profiles in between the married and divorced group.”
I have seen these statistics play out first-hand in my own family.
We recently recognized the 30th anniversary of my mother’s passing on December 30, 2021. And for many years, my father, who had been devoted to my mother since they first laid eyes on each other at the age of twelve, struggled with being alone. He married again – twice in fact – only as a way to not be alone, I’m sure. He just didn’t know how to be by himself.
Then a few years later he began to show signs of dementia and eventually passed in March of 2011. It took twenty years for his brain to finally give in, but I know he had started to decline only a few years after mom died.
So, if you know someone who is recently widowed or is alone, please reach out to them especially during these challenging times. They need your compassion, your encouragement, and your connection. As Mark Nepo said in this quote, you need it too.
“For listening to the stories of others, not to their precautions or personal commandments, is a kind of water that breaks the fever of our isolation. If we listen closely enough, we are soothed into remembering our common name.”
Love from your Joy Mama,
P.S. Why not practice the importance of connection right now by purchasing a copy of my book to give to someone you care about. You’ll be helping to spread the high vibration of joyful energy throughout the world.
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