The Wardley Wellbeing Hub is the central area for the ACTNow campaign.
Even if you consider yourself to be an introvert, or are comfortable in your own company, having good relationships with other people is important for your wellbeing. In fact, making connections is one of the 5 ways to wellbeing and has been proven to increase our sense of life satisfaction.
Due to the ongoing global pandemic, you may be spending more time alone than usual. Many of us are eager to take small steps to see our friends and family again, but we must remember that covid-19 hasn’t gone away yet and is still a threat to our health.
Whilst we always urge you to follow and stay up-to-date on government guidelines, this fact sheet will help you to think about how you can maintain or re-establish your connections with others.
The science behind staying connected
Before we begin, it’s interesting to take a look at why we all have this intrinsic yearning to socialise and be close to others. Even the most introverted amongst us crave some form of social contact from time to time. But why is that?
As humans our need to communicate has shaped the way we have developed as a civilisation – just think of all the inventions which have helped us to communicate; pen and paper, the alphabet, telegraph, the telephone, the Internet … the list goes on. This need to communicate has not only helped us to survive, but also thrive as a species. However, human communication goes even deeper.
Some research suggests that person-to-person contact triggers neurotransmitters in our nervous system which regulate our response to stress and anxiety. This can help us stay more resilient to stress factors in the longer term. Positive communication boosts levels of oxytocin, which in turn increases our levels of trust and happiness, and at the same time, positive communication lowers cortisol levels, which in turn lowers stress. In addition, when we socialise, our bodies release dopamine which gives us a little high and also kills pain.
In short, when we connect with others a cocktail of chemicals are released into our body which increases our short-term and long-term wellbeing. Social interaction helps in other ways too:
- Sharing experiences and support helps us strengthen our mental resilience
- Interaction can help us improve memory formation and protect the brain from neurodegenerative diseases
- Having regular social connection may help us to live longer
- Social participation can help us to understand social norms and develop healthy habits
- Having close social ties can make us feel happy, give us a sense of life satisfaction, and improve our overall wellbeing.
Just a note …
Even if you’re lucky enough to have still been able to keep a busy home life, or have started to socialise with others in a safe way, make sure to check in on those who might have been spending the last few months alone.
If you have an elderly relative, friend or neighbour, or family member or friend abroad, or you simply know someone living alone, make sure to check in on their needs, offer encouragement, or just talk. You might be making a huge impact on their life right now just by saying hello.
Staying connected during Covid-19
Take health and safety precautions
- Keep at least 2 metres distance from other people
- Wear a mask or cloth face covering, for example a scarf
- Regularly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 40 seconds
- Keep a bottle of hand sanitiser with you and use it often
- Stay at home if you feel unwell or have recently been exposed to someone who has covid-19 or feels unwell
- Seek medical assistance if you think you need to be tested.
Stay close to home
- Keep non-essential travel to short distances so you’re lowering the amount of contact you have with others
- When meeting others, use outdoor spaces and open areas where there aren’t too many people and you can keep a physical distance
- When meeting others, choose activities that don’t involve touching shared surfaces and objects, including food
- Consider alternative ways to socialise from your home – a virtual book club, a video call aperitivo with friends, an online interactive game. There are many ways to keep in touch with others and have – you just need to get a bit creative!
- Consider getting involved with the ACTNow campaign and help support the wellbeing of those in our pharmacy family
- Follow Pharmacist Support on social media and connect with like-minded people from your profession.
Keep your social circle small
- Starting out with a small social circle limits contact and makes it easier to identify who needs to self-isolate if someone falls ill
- When socialising, choose households that you trust have been and are still taking precautionary measures
- Keep a list of who you have been in close contact with
Protect the vulnerable
- Even though it can be distressing to be isolated, the risk to the elderly or those with underlying medical conditions are still too high
- Those in the high-risk category should continue to stay at home where possible
- If you’re helping high-risk family and friends, take health and safety precautions such as disinfecting surfaces and objects you’re both touching.