What comes to mind first when you think about the word “connection?”
In this time of social distancing, connection certainly looks different. From girl’s/guy’s night over Zoom, to live streaming Sunday morning worship, to virtual school, COVID-19 has touched everything. It’s impacted every moment in which connection is valuable – celebrated, even. Weddings, Births, Funerals. School, Summer Camps, Parties. Sunday Worship, Small Groups, Bible Studies. Not to mention what might feel like too much connection for families who are working from home, schooling from home, and lacking options for outings – missing the previous opportunities of spending time with others.
The first couple of months, the collective murmur seemed to be along the lines of, “It’s only temporary.” “We’ll get through this!” Let’s just pause and reflect on what a relief Zoom was at the beginning versus now. Zoom Fatigue, anyone? *raises hand* (BOTH hands). After 6-plus months of everything being different, the murmur seems to be “WE’RE OVER IT.”
“I feel exhausted and I haven’t even done much this week.” Sound familiar? Wondering, “Is it really normal how lonely I feel?” Thoughts of “Surely other people are having an easier time than I am.” Trying to balance how much we seek normalcy and doing our best keeping ourselves, families, and friends safe. We’re getting messages to reduce social gatherings, work from home, wear masks, don’t touch ANYTHING, and sanitize EVERYTHING. Oh, and still take care of yourself and your mental wellness. How in the world do we do that and continue to have a healthy, authentic connection with others? It’s definitely been a challenge.
Research suggests that feeling disconnected not only has emotional side effects but also takes a physical toll on our bodies. We observe a positive correlation between loneliness and physical ailments such as type 2 Diabetes, hypertension, and even Alzheimer’s. Increased stress chemicals in the brain from loneliness influence levels of depression, can affect sleep patterns, and potentially weaken the immune system1. If loneliness can have these effects, it’s no wonder we might feel like we’re drowning in loss of connection. The experience of “I’m so tired and I don’t know why” becomes a little bit more normal and makes a little bit more sense.
Now, I don’t know who needs to hear this (or if anyone needs to hear it, but I surely need to hear it). Your feelings of disconnection or loneliness are not a lack of faith, a lack of worth, or a lack of human value. Our sense of normalcy and how we previously sought connection has been shaken to the core. How society conveys value – busy schedules, productivity, and on-the-go lifestyle – now looks a whole lot different. The loneliness that comes out of that lets darkness creep in and can make us question where our worth is now. Remember that our worth is in the Father and what He says about us!
This knowledge doesn’t make your loneliness go away and maybe doesn’t even reduce it. What it might do, though, is give you more insight to what is happening in your brain and body. It’s okay to pay attention to these things! Our culture tends to guide us towards, “What’s next?” “What’s coming?” “Who needs me/needs something from me?” A myriad of to-do lists and urgent matters that distract and take away from the present moment. What would happen if we noticed, “What is my experience in this moment?” “What is my body trying to tell me?” “What are my physical, emotional, and spiritual needs right now?”
Okay, so I’ve recognized that I’m lonely. I’ve taken a minute to acknowledge that I have emotional, relational needs that are not being met. What do I DO? How do I navigate these feelings of loneliness and loss of connection? Great questions! While I don’t know what is best in your time of life, I can provide some suggestions. These might work for you, these might not. Take what you need, leave what you don’t.
Suggestions for connecting while distant:
1. Let God in!
Talk to God about where you are. When others are distant, our God is always near — specifically when we are hurting (Psalm 34:17-18). He is SO near, in fact, that as believers His spirit is in us (1 John 4:13)! Our Heavenly Father wants a relationship with us so much that he sent his only Son as a sacrifice for our sins so that we could live in connection with him for eternity (John 3:16). Pray. Connect with the Father who meets you exactly where you are. We do nothing to deserve it, but God offers His love freely to everyone who believes (Rom 3:21-26).
2. Tell someone how you’re feeling!
If you’re feeling lonely and disconnected, share how you’re feeling with others. The act of allowing others into our experience automatically creates connection. Recognize a friend, family member, or church member you can trust and talk to them (Gal 6:2). Maybe they are feeling the same way, are good at listening, and/or have ways they have been able to find connection in this time. Many counselors are also doing virtual sessions right now and some have socially distanced in-person availability. Consider if this would be a good option for you!
3. Join a small group, bible study, or book club!
Grow your community by entering in to intentional time with others. Being a part of a group working towards a similar goal can facilitate connection, even when you are not able to physically see each other. Imagine reading a book and knowing that three other people are also reading it? Bam! Connection. To get started, check out the links below. Hill Country Bible Church currently has open registration for Bible Studies! Get more information sign-up: Biblical Manhood and Biblical Womanhood
4. Get creative with your Zoom calls!
Plan with a friend to get the same craft supplies or cooking ingredients. Craft or cook together on a Zoom call in addition to the usual talking. At the end show each other your creative project or share a meal together.
5. Driveway and Patio parties!
Okay, “party” is maybe the wrong word. Call up a friend, family member or neighbor and hang out on the driveway or patio. Foster present moment relationships while practicing social distancing.
6. Serve others!
Think about how you can pour into other people’s lives. Write a kind note, join a meal train, or help a family you know with virtual learning. As Christians, we are called to serve (Gal 5:13, Phil. 2:1-4, 1 Peter 4:8-11) . How better to foster connection than connecting with what were created to do? Consider your bandwidth for this and serve within your current capacity.
Connect with your needs, connect with God, and connect with others. Explore what your current self needs and allow those things to be real and valuable. Give yourself space to enter in to the struggle of loneliness and sadness over lost connection. Notice what you need and contemplate what would help those needs to be met. Find someone you trust and allow them in to your struggle. Reconnect over loss of connection.
1Mushtaq, R., Shoib, S., Tabindah, S. Mushtaq, S. (2014). Relationship between loneliness, psychiatric disorders and physical health: A review on the psychological aspects of loneliness. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research (9). https://dx.doi.org/10.7860%2FJCDR%2F2014% 2F10077.4828
Rebekah Capriglione, MA, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Sarah Walters, LPC-S
Published on Aug 31 @ 10:48 AM CDT