PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACTS OF SOCIAL DISTANCING
The impact of COVID-19 on our lives over the last few weeks has been astonishing. For most of us, it has dramatically changed the way we live and work and irreversibly altered our perceptions of the world at large. No longer is it entirely safe to explore new places or get together with our friends and family; shopping for essential supplies has become a source of anxiety and our hospital and medical services are being stretched to their limits. At the most personal level, we have had to re-think the way we connect with others, going against our basic instincts of wanting to touch, hold and hug to feel reassured and to offer reassurance to the ones we love during this critical time.
As the crisis deepens and we become increasingly anxious, we engage our survival instincts – we want to get physically close to the people we love and trust, to band together for support. Social distancing challenges us at this very basic level. Some of the hardest things to deal with when it comes to practising social distancing are:
Managing the urge to reach out and hold/hug or touch the people we are close to when we are distressed
Breaking old habits/routines that provide reassurance and support (e.g. kissing each other as a greeting, holding hands, touching another’s face)
Staying confined to a small space with people you love but having to deal with your and their frustrations
Rationing precious resources to last the period of confinement and sharing those resources amongst the people with whom you live
Dealing with increased social isolation when you are already experiencing chronic loneliness
Having to learn to live with yourself and maintain your sense of self and identity without reassurance from others
We are increasingly having to distance ourselves from others and the situation is only going to get worse before it gets better. Regardless of your own situation, it is important to plan how you implement social distancing with the least possible adverse effects on your mental health. Common symptoms include depression, stress and anxiety, irritability and anger.
If you are struggling with these symptoms you can get help by contacting our Clinic (02) 9389 5630 or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We can offer appointments via Telehealth if you have a valid Mental Health Care Plan and a referral from your general practitioner.