Among the many trials from the Long Tail of Covid has been how disconnected we’ve been from family and friends. Recently, there has been a spate of research, articles and discussions about loneliness. Even terms that we’ve used to discuss Covid prevention strategies seem to stoke the loneliness epidemic, such as “social distancing,” “shelter in place,” and “breakout rooms.” My wife Sheila says we should call them “connection rooms,” instead so we see that they actually help bring us together.
Of course, anything that depletes our energy levels, reduces our capacity for resilience. Furthermore, hanging out with friends and family is a central tenet to every resilience theory and action. Children who suffer a difficult upbringing become more successful adults when they connect with a caring adult. Older people do better in maintaining health when they have strong social connections.
So does everyone at an age in between.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I’ve seen more and more people thanking employees at the drug and grocery stores as well as at restaurants and gas stations just for showing up to work. This has been a new practice I’ve adopted, and this extra measure of friendliness is not only helpful to them but also to me. Seeing someone respond with a smile or pause to a thank you, or even joke about “this is just my job,” brings me a bit of happiness and helps make a human connection.
One author recently wrote that she made some new friends while waiting on a Covid test line.
It’s certainly not the same as being able to get together with close friends or visiting family, both of which have been difficult in Omicron days, but a bit of daily connection does help salve the wound of lost connections and, just maybe, could create a new friendship that will endure.
So, I invite you to bring (more) friendliness into your life, reach out to those who you may not have talked to recently, introduce yourself to a new person in line, and thank that store worker, food server, and definitely your health care provider.
© Richard Citrin 2022