In this weeks blog, I would like to touch on a very important issue that many people are struggling with as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is easy to get lost in the forest, so to speak, around what is actually happening for us at the moment as we listen to the news every day and are reminded about the devastating impact of this pandemic.

Even if you don’t listen to the news, the general feeling in the air, if I may suggest, is one of uncertainty and worry about the future. One aspect that I have not seen mentioned in much of the literature around Covid-19 is that of the need for human connection and the lack of connection we are experiencing. This is very applicable from a mental health standpoint as I explored and discovered in my research for this particular column and as I will discuss.

As human beings we have a great need for connection with other people and the Covid-19 pandemic has made our need for connection even greater. If we weren’t aware of the need before, the pandemic is almost forcing us in seeing how important human connection is in our daily lives and highlighted the lack of connection that now exists. The pandemic is also making it extremely difficult for many people to see and embrace their loved ones and sometimes a phone or video call just isn’t enough.

We are grateful for the opportunity to be able to connect but we are really losing out on that face to face connection that is extremely important to our overall health – both physical and mental.

Unfortunately, research has shown that loneliness is increasing worldwide (before the pandemic) and it can be more harmful to our health than smoking, obesity and high blood pressure.

We live very busy lives these days, even in the middle of a pandemic, as we try to balance work, family and play and it is overwhelming to try and get it all in each day and week.

Sometimes we can lack a connection to others and it is alot more important than I initially thought.

Through my research I have found that social connection can lead to reduced depression and anxiety, help us regulate our emotions, lead to higher self esteem and empathy and can actually boost our immune systems. Therefore it is hugely important that we have social connection in our lives.

Unfortunately, we are living in a time where connection is difficult because of covid-19 but also because of social media and technology. Social media is making us more disconnected from face to face interaction.

Many of us, myself included, could do with more time away from our phones and develop our connection with ourselves, with others and with nature. This connection is great for our overall health and well-being and in particular our mental health.

As we are unable to see people outside of 5km at the moment, it is important to find some way of connecting and although technology, is leading to less face to face time, video and phone calls are providing the opportunity to have some form of connection during these difficult times.

Think of someone you know who may be living alone and reach out to them and ask how they are doing. It would be greatly appreciated and would not go unnoticed.

Connection to nature is also important and can give us a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves which can take you out of the internal dialogue. A short walk in nature can help us do this and be of a huge benefit to our overall health, including our mental health.

But really, what I achieve in this column is to acknowledge the difficulty we are all facing. As much as I would love to have solutions to the problem of a lack of human connection, it really is outside our control at this point and there is a certain level of acceptance that must exist with regards this lack of connection we are encountering – as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.

Again, I would advocate the use of technology to connect with people whether through a video call or a phone call. It’s not the same as a face to face connection or a hug or embrace and I feel that’s important to acknowledge. However, a voice at the other end of the phone is certainly better than nothing. So take the time to make that all important phone or video call to a friend, loved one or someone you feel could do with a voice at the other end of the phone. Let someone know you are thinking of them during these difficult times.

We need to adapt to overcome. Covid-19 pandemic has certainly caused a forced adaption on our daily lives so remember ti acknowledge how far you have come. Give yourself a clap on the back for overcoming the hurdles that have been put in your way. We will get through this. Its just a matter of having a little more patience. There are brighter days ahead and the worst really is over. We have weathered the storm of the pandemic. We will come back more resilient.

Like a palm tree, that has adapted to face the tropical storm, we too will and have adapted and it will make us stronger to negotiate life’s challenges more smoothly into the future.