Over the past month I have had a number of conversations with clients and colleagues and discovered a number of articles that point to a decrease in the level of ‘happiness’ chemicals in the community. These chemicals – particularly oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins – are needed to maintain strong emotional health as we experience the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and (of course) for a happier life in general.
This decrease is manifesting in many ways. People are feeling disconnected, increased longing and loneliness, unexpected sadness and tears, less smiling and laughing, less engaged and lethargic – to share a few of the words people used.
It is important to acknowledge these changes and understand the impact that not being able to ‘connect’ (in its many forms) has on us. It is also important to explore the many ways we can reverse this trend. In some cases this means using techniques we were engaging with in the early stages of the pandemic that now seem to have been ‘put on the shelf’.
Here are a few reminders to support all of us at this time:
When we connect in on a video call, always start with a check-in question that makes people smile, causes them to bring back a positive memory or has them share a story. For instance, what has made you smile this week? Tell us about someone who inspires you and why. Share a story about a time when you felt really proud.
Perhaps bring back the team quiz, the ‘funny hat’ section, the ‘two truths and a lie’ segment – anything to build the interpersonal connection we appear to be losing from online meetings.
When you are taking a walk (even with your mask on) take time to smile – for a few seconds, for a few minutes, for as long as you can – and not just when you see another person. We know that it takes a lot less muscular effort to smile than frown and the chemical benefits are exponential!
Try some ‘laughter yoga’ and see what happens. This is just one example and there are many, many more. Even if we ‘fake’ laughter we know it is beneficial!
We need each other to connect and I also want to acknowledge that is critical to seek external/professional/collegiate support if we continue to find ourselves in that disconnected space. As we say to all our clients and colleagues, we are only a ‘virtual’ cup of coffee away!
Special mention to Di Morgan for the handiwork featured in the photo on this post!