Traveling the US for work during what is being labeled the Covid Pandemic has opened my eyes to many consequences (expected and unexpected) on human rights and behavior. Over the course of a year and a half I drove the US, five times allowing me to get a feel for the increase or decline in human connection in various zip codes. One of the most significant impacts that I have observed is the increase in isolation, desensitization, and disassociation among individuals and communities.
Most of my time in school districts, I have had firsthand experience of the toll that masks, laws, and fear have played on individuals, organizations, and communities. The shift in overall behavior has been so impactful that I have worked and lived in communities that no longer greet each other, much less even look at each other.
It is concerning that the overall plan was to separate humans and turn us against each other, and it is working in many places. The pandemic has made people more cautious and apprehensive, leading to a lack of social interaction and connection. This isolation can have severe consequences on our mental and physical health, leading to depression, anxiety, and even physical illness.
Scientists have conducted assessments on the impact of lockdowns on mental health, and the results are concerning. For instance, a study published in The Lancet Psychiatry found that people who had to quarantine or self-isolate experienced a wide range of mental health problems, including PTSD, confusion, and anger. Another study by the University of Cambridge found that social isolation can increase the risk of premature death by up to 30%.
Therefore, it is crucial to find ways to reconnect with each other and build supportive communities. We can start by intentionally walking up to people to say hello and wish them a great day, even if they ignore us. The pure and simple act of seeing the people in your space and recognizing that they exist with brief eye contact, a simple smile, a nod of the head, or a greeting can change this world with repetition. Being seen and heard is a basic human need, and how simple it is to take that time to support.
There are evidence-based options for people to practice getting more comfortable inserting themselves into communities and creating new communities. For instance, improv, public speaking, toastmasters, volunteering, and helping others can help to build confidence and social skills. These activities can also help to build new relationships and support systems, leading to improved mental and physical health.
This pandemic has led to an increase in isolation, desensitization, and disassociation among individuals and communities. I feel it is each of our responsibility to take action to reconnect with each other and build supportive communities. Let us intentionally take time to see and acknowledge the people in our spaces, build new relationships, and support each other in every way possible. The call to action is every single one of us, and we can start by taking small steps towards building a more connected and supportive world.