Feelings of (dis) connection & feelings of loneliness have certainly been a prevalent theme during the last 12 months and could arguably be the biggest impact of the pandemic.
We have seem plenty of inspiring examples of connection and support as a result of current challenges but it is undeniable that this is the tip of the iceberg compared to the number of people increasingly feeling disconnected and lonely.
You might be one of them.
I have certainly been through phases of feeling disconnected and lonely during the last 12 months and most of the people I speak to share the sentiment, either personally or through their own network of friends and family.
So why is this? And more importantly, what can you do to protect against it and help others through it?
This is clearly a complex topic and I can only skim the surface here, but feelings of disconnection have been accelerating alongside the advancement of the very technologies which are supposed to help us "connect". Fundamentally we are a tribal species, designed to live in communities of 200 or less. Communities we would feel inexplicably connected to and would have significant value to.
Today our communities are so vast and our families and friends so geographically spread out that it is almost inevitable that we will feel disconnected. The evolution of Facebook, Zoom, Facetime etc haven't helped us move forward from 100,000 years of evolutionary psychology at the level we need it.
A second significant factor is feeling valued. Valued in the work we do, our contribution to the community around us. When you don't feel valued and you feel powerless to change your circumstances you slide towards depression which is a huge factor in removing any sense of connection with most people and also deters you from trying to make healthy connections.
Regardless of our personal work experience prior to the pandemic, the last 12 months have possibly stopped you working and have certainly drastically changed any community interaction you may have had.
In short, we have been struggling against loneliness and feelings of disconnection prior to the pandemic and the last 12 months have largely only made things that much harder.
So, how can you protect yourself?
Understanding and finding that connection and love within yourself is a powerful way of fighting loneliness and re-establishing connection with the world around you. When you feel sad, lost and lonely, you subconsciously put barriers up, pushing people away and avoiding connection with others. When you accept that your path to happiness is found within, you stop putting pressure on the outside world to conform to your needs (which it never will).
Focusing your inner voice constructively, releasing your negative emotions through healthy reflection and breathwork. Allowing the negativity to run its energy dry so that positive emotions can return to the fore.
Finding peace and stillness in your mind, through practices such as yoga, meditation, mindfulness, breathwork and using tools to free you from trapped stress and anxiety will allow you to find more peace, stillness, and connection within yourself.
This in turn will allow you to open yourself up to connection with others. Like in every plane safety briefing, help yourself first so that you can properly help others.
If you would like to learn more and practice simple and effective tools for managing your emotions in a healthy way to allow you to feel more connected with yourself and those around you I will be holding a workshop later this month.