“Deep human connection is…the purpose and the result of a meaningful life. It will inspire the most amazing acts of love, generosity and humanity.“ – Melinda Gates
Even during a time of social distancing, studies have revealed that human connection — something as simple as getting an offer of help from a stranger or looking at a picture of someone you love — can ease pain and reduce physical symptoms of stress. People who feel supported by their social networks are more likely to live longer (source: The Washington Post).
The challenge is: HOW can we create and make HUMAN CONNECTIONS beyond our homes right now?
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH THOSE YOU LOVE
This might seem like a very simple and maybe even silly idea. If you can’t be with those you love, give your family visual reminders that they are still there by adding extra photos of family and friends around the house, posting old greeting cards from those you love, etc. around the house! Simply thinking about a supportive person can activate a part of the brain called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which is associated with overcoming fear. Scientists call this the “buffering effect.” The sense of security that people get from thinking about their friends and family allows them to meet stressful situations from a calmer perspective.
VIRTUAL FAMILY DINNER/GAME NIGHTS
A wonderful “usual” connector for families are times spent together eating, playing or doing activities with another family. Consider simulating that creatively with video chat! The message being sent to your children about human connection? Committing to a virtual dinner or lunch with someone is a signal that ‘I care about this relationship.” Children learn that connecting with each other in creative ways matters.
During a time when kids are home, doing online schooling and looking for ways to fill their days, consider an activity that ends in a thoughtful delivery or mailing to friends and family near and far. We know there are a lot of sometimes overwhelming craft projects and baking extravaganza’s on Pinterest. Don’t let that intimidate you! HUMAN CONNECTION IS SIMPLE. It’s letting someone know you are thinking about them and that they matter.
This can look like a cleaning supply dropped off at their door, a baked good, a simple art project, or just a little personal note. How timely that May offers two excuses to do just that! May 8th is National Teachers Day and May 18 is National Visit a Relative’s House Day!
FILL YOUR CUP SO YOU CAN FILL OTHERS
As parents, we are obviously very focused on making sure everyone ELSE in our homes are doing ok. Be sure that you’re still allowing yourself to feel and process your own feelings. Take breaks to do what YOU need to do to stay positive. One tool that may help is our MONTHLY FREEBIE: AFFIRMATION CARDS. These can be used as fantastic, thoughtful and positive reminders for you during this time.
Looking for more bi-weekly tips and ideas in your inbox? Don’t forget to sign-up for the Empowering Kids with Character Newsletter, so you always are in the know!
Do you have some ideas of ways you’ve maintained human connection during this time? We’d love for you to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.
Sarah Cavanaugh is a Marketing, PR and Communications Specialist with over 25 years of experience writing, building effective campaigns, and creating brand awareness. Sarah can usually be found exercising, drinking coffee and watching Saturday Night Live skits on YouTube. She lives with her two active teens and husband in Grand Rapids. Find her at www.CavanaughCommunications.com.