WARNING This post is not for people with young children at home who have no time for themselves.
I feel your pain. I do.
Humans were created and designed to be social. Studies have proven that social connection is vital to every aspect of health and well-being. We get reinforcement and connection with the cues we receive from people. Research has shown if isolated for an extended period of time social animals experience distress, depression, poor health, and even death. Think of the Russian babies with no physical warm touch. No soothing voice or warm embrace. They banged their heads on the metal rods of their institutional crib just to get some kind of stimuli. Breaks my heart. Even animals die in isolation. Now our sickest and the elderly are dying alone in hospitals, scared and alone, with no human touch. Heart breaking.
With so many people isolated from friends, family, and colleagues these days how do we prevent a similar outcome? Especially for those who live alone. You can only ZOOM so many calls. How do you get the support you need? Have you thought of forming your own support bubble?
A support bubble is gaining interest especially in the UK. The premise is you have a handful of people (exclusive only) who don’t necessarily live with you who maintain social distancing and practice safe hygiene, at all times. Trust is a big factor in this scenario.
But I’m going deeper.
Many of our senior citizens in facilities are already in a bubble of self-isolation. Why not let them share their bubble? They are not at risk if they are not out and about and no one is visiting them. It would look like this: facilities with no virus outbreaks allow a “bubble” of 4 or 5 residents the opportunity to socialize. Bingo is a non-sharing activity. So is painting. So is chair yoga. All must adhere to safe health practices.
How about adopting an animal (if your situation allows the responsible adoption of a cat or dog)?
As a woman who is an empty-nester and living alone, in California (the shut-down state of the country), I have created ways to prevent the creep of isolation as best as I can. I have constructed my own version of a support bubble.
The most important thing I do is keep a routine. I have 2 cats (left-overs from my adult children) that are quite entertaining and keep me on track. One cat literally meows in my face or at my feet at 8:30 p.m. until I go to bed. Not only does this make me laugh, every night, this practice allows me to maintain good sleep quality. Of course, the same cat is in my face at 5:15 every morning meowing. And when I say in my face, I mean literally! I smile at him every morning. What a great way to start the day!
I also have a goal (note I did not say habit) is to work out every morning (in my case in my Living Room) after working for a couple hours (I office out of my home). Like “normal” if I don’t do it in the morning it won’t get done. I schedule ZOOM calls and I’m working on two purpose driven projects. I text friends with relevant GIFs just to get engagement. I call my elderly parents almost every day to see how they are doing. I’ve recently taken up the lost art of notecard writing. Just to stay in touch.
And with face mask in hand, I walk outside when I can. I smile behind my face mask whenever I come across another human being just in case in the brief moment our eyes lock they see my eyes crinkle with joy of greeting another human being.
What does your support bubble look like? Who or what is in your support bubble? What do you do to prevent the effects of isolation? And if you’re feeling isolated what can you do to proactively get out of it?