With all the concerns around COVID-19, it is more important than ever to remember how important human connection truly is for our overall well-being. Connection with others strengthens our immune systems, decreases our stress response and helps us to live longer, happier lives. Isolation is associated with poorer health outcomes, higher rates of addiction, increased depression symptoms and reduced immune system functioning.
“Over the same period of time that social isolation has increased, our levels of happiness have gone down, while rates of suicide and depression have multiplied.” – The Atlantic
What happens in our brains when we have human connection
Human connection releases a hormone called Oxytocin. When oxytocin is released in our brains, our blood pressure lowers and cortisol (stress hormone) is reduced. Because of this, oxytocin plays a vital role in protecting and healing both the body and the soul. Oxytocin can be released from physical touch, but also in less obvious ways that we can take advantage of during this unique time in our lives.
It has even been suggested that connection could be the antidote to addiction.
None of this is to say, ignore the government suggestions for social distancing during this crucial time. Simply put, this is a reminder of the importance of remaining in contact with our loved ones during this challenging time where many of us are asked to remain in our homes. FaceTime your loved ones, communicate daily via text, phone calls or Skype. Do not allow this health crisis to be a reason to completely isolate yourself from all interactions because this might actually exacerbate the problem.
At the end of the day, we are pack animals and thrive in communities where we have a sense of belonging.
Ways to get an Oxytocin boost during social distancing/quarantine
- Listen to music and DANCE
- Laugh – watch a funny movie or video
- Deep breathing
- Video chat with an old friend
- Pet your pets!
- Eat some of your favorite foods
- Use some of your favorite scents (lotions, essential oils, etc.)
- Call your family
I’ll end this post with a lovely 5-minute guided meditation designed to help remind of us what is important right now — each other. –> Lean into Love – 5 minute guided meditation.
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