Maintaining Social Contact Essential For Wellbeing

An international panel of experts have looked at how we can maintain our wellbeing during the Covid19 lockdown.

Many historical studies have shown the issues experienced by the likes of astronauts, polar explorers etc when faced with months of isolation.

The World Wellbeing Panel have published their report on how to keep well during the lockdown.

It may seem obvious to close down negative thinking but it is increasingly difficult to do during an extended lockdown and with the fear of becoming infected.

Professor Eugenio Proto, expert in Behavioural Economics at University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School, who is a member of the international panel  highlighted the importance of:

“Avoid hearing too much bad news and think about your own personal exit strategy when negative thoughts start to populate your mind.”

This week, the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics (Barcelona GSE) published the results of the survey conducted by the World Wellbeing Panel (WWP) which asked: “How can we maintain wellbeing during isolation while facing huge emotional stress from the threat of the COVID-19 virus?”

The importance of maintaining contact with family and friends was highlighted. Some of the ways to do this whilst maintaining physical distancing included:

  • Use the phone to maintain social contact with family, friends and workmates; the internet allows us to reconnect
  • Develop closeness/communication rituals, like a story-telling session every night at dinner, or sharing the best and the worst of each person’s day.
  • Giving is better than receiving, even during lock down. So, think how you can help those in worse circumstances
  • Look for volunteering opportunities in your neighbourhood or circle of friends

Some coping strategies

  • Assuming one is fortunate enough to be healthy and have sufficient financial security, then we can tell ourselves that we are given the gift of quality time with family and loved ones
  • Actively avoid hearing too much bad news.  More generally, just don’t read too much news
  • Avoid informing yourself about the most gruesome details of the sanitary and social effects of COVID-19.
  • Distract yourself. Emphasize what you can control, not what is out of your control. Look for gratifications. Try to look beyond the obviously available ones: sex, food, good movies, music, and reading. Learn something new, it’s plenty of online activities now. Try to have fun. Humor and laughing are the best medicine
  • Improve your house or garden, as house quality also increases happiness
  • Get outside – Even just a few minutes outside can help reduce feelings of isolation and claustrophobia. Do something physical every day
  • Practicing arts: Art is a tool to maintain intersubjective experience and getting the sense of “doing something now”. So make art and share with others.

Organise your day

  • Maintain a strict daily time structure:working in the home office; sport activities; leisure time, and; fixed time to get up and to go to bed
  • Maintain diaries that emphasise the positive, such as writing down every day 5 nice things you have seen others do

Face the fear

  • Optimism and positive thinking (as well as material comfort) can help in dealing with the crisis 

Work on the future

  • Reflect about your  beliefs of what contributes to personal well-being
  • Understand the fragility of life, and develop meaning in life, such as from small things that you might ignore in  ‘normal’ life
  • Think about how you want to live and what kind of society you want to live in, and, want the next generations to live in, and how you can help to make that happen.

Healthy habits

  • Continue to eat healthily and exercise; both to feel better and keep your immune system strong: prioritise sleep , and exercise, particularly in green spaces
  • Do low intensity exercise (jogging, biking) which gives your brain small injections of dopamine that improve your mood

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