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    Loss of Connection in the Pandemic: 4 Tips to Reconnect

    “Connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives,” Brene Brown. We are made to desire the energy that exists between people when we feel seen, heard, and valued. So what happens when we are unable to connect in ways we used to?

    This past year has been incredibly hard; we’ve experienced loss and grief. We’ve experienced a sudden change that pulled the rug out from underneath us and turned our world upside down and then asked us to stay at home and away from others out of need for safety. While we are physically safe when social distancing and isolating, we may be feeling far from mentally, emotionally, and socially safe. We’ve lost access to one of the main ways to cope with traumatic experiences; through connection with others.

    This has been a challenging year; before anything else I just want to encourage you to pause…close your eyes…take a deep breath…and allow your emotions to have space, and just be. It is ok to feel sad, it is ok to feel angry, it is ok to feel anxious, it is ok to feel all of these emotions at once, and it is ok to feel these emotions one hour and feel something different the next. Our experiences and emotions are valid and deserve the space to be seen and heard. I believe connecting with our internal experience allows us to connect with others, even if in ways that are different than what we are used to.

    Here are four helpful tips on how to reconnect during the pandemic.

    1. Connect with your internal experience

      Much of our experience in the world day to day is through our external experience; what is going on around us. We thrive as a culture on distraction, which often leaves us disconnected from our internal experience. I can speak from experience that when I am focused on distraction techniques to get through my day, there is something underneath that I am avoiding. This is when it becomes important to reconnect with my body and check in on my emotions. Utilizing grounding skills (like the 5 senses exercise) can help us connect to the present moment, and ground us in our experience and connect us to our emotions. It is then important to not judge our emotions and experience, but rather to validate them. Next, check in on your needs and give yourself permission to fulfill those needs.

      Reminder: If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety/panic, or trauma, it may not be safe to ground and connect to your emotions and experience. Please reach out and ask for support from a trusted friend/family member or with a therapist.

    2. Take a step back from social media

      Our days often start with reaching for our phones or flipping on the news. We are checking in with the world before we’ve checked in with ourselves. Connecting with ourselves first can change the rhythm of the day, it can give us a clear direction of what we’re needing and what we’re hoping to accomplish. One way this can be done is through these journaling prompts.Social media can lead us to play the comparison game that often leaves us feeling not so great about ourselves. Comparison does not lead to connection, it only further contributes to feeling disconnected. On the other hand, social media can bring about beautiful connection. Connection is fueled through sharing some sort of ‘likeness,’ something that causes us to say “I’m not alone,” or “I feel that way too.” Check in with how the accounts you follow make you feel; do they cause you to compare or do they bring about connection.

    3. Talk to someone you trust

      An important part to moving through the process of loss and grief is not only allowing space for our feelings of sadness and anger, but also sharing these feelings with people we trust; especially when it begins to feel like too much for us to carry on our own. It can be scary to share vulnerable feelings, but our ability to move through painful emotions and connect with others thrives on vulnerability.While we don’t have as much access to seeing loved ones in person right now, it does not mean we can’t connect over zoom or facetime. Plan a scheduled time to talk with a family member or a friend a few times each week and check in with how the other person is doing. Being a support for someone can help us shift from being hyper-focused on our own experience and can also foster connection through shared experience. Create a balance in your conversation and reminisce over favorite memories.

    4. Activities that foster connection in the pandemic

      -Join a virtual book club
      -Play games with friends and family with the Houseparty app
      -Create a Skillshare account and connect with your creativity
      -Learn to meditate or to do yoga on InsightTimer
      -Follow a YouTube tutorial for something you’ve always wanted to learn to do
      -Choose a recipe and cook with friends or family virtually
      -Have a virtual coffee date or wine date with a friend
      -Leave a note or home-made present at a family member or friend’s door
      -Go for a hike with a friend
      -Plant a garden
      -Spend time with animals
      -Start a gratitude journal
      Watch TV or a movie with friends or family
      -Take a virtual National Park tour
      -Get a pen pal
      -Listen to a podcast
      -Join a Facebook group that interests you
      -Volunteer for a hotline
      -Make something for the Denver community fridge

    Remember, you are not alone in feeling disconnected and isolated although it can feel like that at times. These tips require intentional effort, which can be hard when we are feeling disconnected. Set a goal to try one tip to begin with and then slowly incorporate more into your routine. Allow yourself to acknowledge and celebrate your victories and provide yourself a space of grace while continuing to navigate this challenging time.

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