Social Disengagement: Simple Suggestions To Help You Maneuver This Disruption

Social disengagement brought about by the pandemic. Image of a girl watching out a window. "Only the lonly know the way I feel tonight." - Roy Orbison

Two weeks ago, I heard someone talk of social disengagement (Cumming & Henry, 1961). Disengagement theory states that older adults withdraw from personal relationships and society as they age. (I digress to say I rarely observe this finding in my birth country of Trinidad and Tobago where generations are more integrated and respected than in many developed countries.)

Since February 2020, I propose social disengagement is applicable to all age groups. Many of us have experienced a decline in deep engagement with others during this pandemic. Based on Science and health guidelines, we implemented measures to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe from Covid-19. Workplaces too. Our routines have been disrupted – for good or bad – and new behaviours have taken root.

When I speak with close connections, they mention the following of themselves, their children, or close connections.

  • Loneliness.
  • Social phobia.
  • Lack of enthusiasm.
  • Feeling overwhelmed.
  • Having shorter attention.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Being easily irritated.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Easily fatigued.

Descriptions span physical, mental, behavioral, and social. Psychologists have compared symptoms to trauma. This pandemic is not yet over. Researchers are now describing this pandemic as an endemic. We must adjust our lives to thrive with the presence of Covid-19 and all the other challenges we are facing.

We are social creatures, and even for a shy introvert like me, this way of life has been draining. Still, each day, I remind myself of my blessings by keeping a running journal of all the good I experience.

What else can we do to move through this disruption?

  1. Maintain your connections. Decide on the number of people you will talk to each week. I recommend the ones with whom you can laugh. Call them. Spread your calls over the week. Maybe even a few unkind ones. I do. We all need humane interactions.
  2. Grow your connections by joining an online club or group. Book clubs, exercise groups, meditation groups, writing groups are options. Or, form your own club.
  3. Take care of your body. Consciously stop during your day to do a body scan. Walk in a park. Exercise at least three (3) times weekly. When too many negative experiences embody us, therapy is often needed.
  4. Eat healthily and mindfully. Know what to eat and when to eat it for optimal nutrients. Get your prescribed chews in to aid the digestion and absorption of nutrients.
  5. Fun times. Game night. Comedy shows. Outdoor time with friends and family. Whatever will lighten your mood. And involve yourself in a manageable range of activities.
  6. Limit news time and the time of day you watch the news. With all the unpleasantness, there are those who are unable to have rested sleep when they view the evening news.
  7. Sit and breathe deeply for even two (2) minutes three (3) times daily.
  8. Schedule all your activities at a comfortable pace.
  9. Practice Physical Distancing Responsibly. I am vaccinated and boosted. I continue to correctly wear a fitted KN95 mask. I avoid crowds and people who may be ill. I occasionally meet up in small groups where people are relatively cautious though I know not as I am. I often travel on public transit at off-peak times. I felt safer on airplanes when PCR tests were the norm.

What are you experiencing or hearing from your connections? What coping strategies do you suggest?

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