We’re coming up on four months of quarantine now and, for many, that’s meant four months of mental health struggles.
Consider the run on toilet paper we had at the beginning of it all. People’s anxiety over the unknown triggered that hoarding behavior. But having enough toilet paper (or way too much in many people’s cases) only satisfied a superficial risk. The underlying anxiety remained.
We are social creatures. Most of us want to be around people. Human contact, emotional and physical, is important. I’m a performer. I need feedback to be fulfilled. I’m also a hugger. I want that physical affirmation from the people I love and trust. I’m fortunate to be quarantined with my family right now. They can tell if I’m up or down. My oldest son, who’s out of the house, will check in with me on Tuesdays because those days are often (for whatever reason) my most stressful day of the week.
Knowing how important it is to me to have that interaction, I’ve made it a point to try to reach out to friends and family during the pandemic. Some of that contact may have been via a text message or instant message of some sort. Messaging is great. It’s quick, it lets someone know I’m thinking of them, but it does have a downside, too. It’s easy to lie in a text message. If I were to ask how you were doing/how you were feeling and you replied, “I’m good!” would I have a reason not to believe you? Even if you replied, “Oh, not bad, getting along pretty well I guess,” would that trigger a sense of unease?
Messaging keeps us in touch, but I’d argue it doesn’t really keep us connected.
A phone call gets us closer. If we can hear each other’s voices, we can hear the subtle inflection that helps tell the real story of how we feel. And, be honest, is there a much better feeling in the world than sharing a hearty laugh with a loved one? Speaking of laughs, I’m also fortunate to have a group of friends that I unwind with via PlayStation in the evenings. The ridiculous jokes, occasional curses and honest laughs are a welcome release during all of this.
Maybe the best way to get in touch with someone though, if you can’t see them in person, is on a videoconference. Whether it’s Skype or Zoom or Facetime or Facebook Messenger or Google Hangouts or whatever else you may have access to, actually seeing the faces of your friends and family is important. Then you really know they’re okay. If you haven’t done it yet, give it a shot. Video call someone you haven’t seen lately. You’ll make sure you see how they’re doing and they’ll be able to see how much you care.
I wish you all health.