By Malveeka Raj
Social distancing seemingly struck worse than the actual virus itself.
It has been well over a year since the coronavirus hit our planet and started to eat into humanity’s heart at a brutal pace. This pandemic unlike any other we have faced in the past has not only led to the loss of human life but also has demolished our economy and not to mention our social lives.
The worldwide lockdown which was expected to last for 3 weeks, kept getting extended, month after month. At first, it was like a holiday, with taking the time to relax from the hectic routines. Children were very happy not to attend school. But this happiness soon changed into dread as we remained trapped in our houses, barely able to step out for our necessary needs. Our social lives, in particular, came to a sudden and harsh halt.
Humans are social beings- social interaction is very important to our mental health. Talking and interacting with our family and friends helps us cope with stress and other problems we might be struggling with. So, when the lockdown was enforced another major problem crept in. Social distancing seemingly struck worse than the actual virus itself.
Humans are wired to live in communal societies, we crave interaction and human contact. While a lot of us had our families around us, another situation of having to tolerate each other every day cropped up. It was also not easy to stay and interact with the same faces day after day, and not everyone lives in decent-sized houses. There are low-income families who felt imprisoned in the walls of small houses. Not everyone gets along with their families, a lot of people have dysfunctional families and during the lockdown, the cases of domestic abuse have most definitely increased.
The other extreme was that many young bachelors and old people were confined in their apartments. Old people had it the worst- not only were they deprived of their social life but also left alone to do their housework without help.
Selfcare is important
Solitary confinement can be very draining mentally and physically, long periods of isolation cause loneliness which leads to depression and high anxiety levels. The mental health of people during the lockdown declined at a concerning pace, which gave rise to a mental health crisis. Mental and physical health are interconnected, bad mental health weakens our immune system, which is the last thing we would want during the pandemic.
Being trapped might also lead to extreme frustration, which might cause anger bursts and irritability. All of us are at risk for a worsening mental state in such extreme circumstances. We should make sure to be aware of this state and take care of ourselves.
Selfcare is very important, especially when we are confined within the four walls of our house. Being inside our homes 24/7 might cause our concept of time to become distorted, we must try to eat healthy meals at correct times and follow a routine. Finding ways to exercise within the home and staying physically fit is a big help to maintain a positive state of mind. Making an effort to stay in touch with friends contributes immensely to making us feel less lonely.
Coming out of the lockdown might not be as easy as we must’ve thought. Our social skills have become a bit rusty, being deprived of social interaction and staying in isolation. We might experience fear and dread at the thought of returning back to work- post lockdown anxiety has become a common thing. It is not unusual for people to desire solitude occasionally but when we have spent months with limited contact with others, it is not surprising that we might feel anxious when needed to be present socially. If this isolation is affected severely, one would need therapy to return to normal.
Technology is here to stay
During this lockdown, we still had access to all kinds of social media. We did our best to overcome the issue of not being able to see people in person by trying to take everything we could online; schools, colleges, workplaces were all conducted through video conferences. Not only this but birthdays, anniversaries, and other occasions were held online. Throughout lockdown, streaming websites such as Netflix, youtube, etc helped us cope with the loneliness. Movies, tv shows, and content creators kept us busy and away from thinking about the deadly pandemic which had taken over.
Even though most of us compromised and found a way to stay in touch with each other, it has been difficult for people who don’t understand how to use this modern technology. Adapting to everything, from work to buying groceries, being taken to a digital platform must’ve not been easy for people. Regardless getting used to such an environment has now become a must. Technology is advancing rapidly and it looks like the virtual era is here to stay even after the pandemic is over.
But despite having social media help us to stay connected with one another, it is still nothing like being physically present, and feel the human touch. No matter how much we evolve digitally our body will yearn for corporal contact. There is no way we can completely cut off social interaction as it is necessary for our survival.
Today, social life is not just going out and spending time with loved ones, though it is still a big part of it. Social media has brought people from different ethnicities, cultures, and interests together, we are connected through the internet. Social interaction will evolve with the progressing humanity. The social lives of humans will not cease to exist while mankind is still alive and kicking.