Social effects of COVID-19

Our university is buckling down for a full semester of online classes and a closed campus. This means I’ll be working from home and doing telehealth sessions until at least the end of the semester.

This has given me cause for reflection on, well, a lot of things really. Of course we should all be following the advice from health professionals and distancing ourselves socially, avoiding large group gatherings, and washing our hands.

How long will we need to do this? I think this question is still undetermined. This means we will all be quite a bit more socially isolated for at least a few weeks, possibly a few months. As a psychologist I am starting to wonder what the effect of this social isolation will be.

Loneliness is not a fleeting, harmless feeling. It can have the same health effects as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, according to some research. I am not the first psychologist to wonder about how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect loneliness in our country and beyond.

We will have to be creative in the upcoming weeks to find ways to connect with others socially so we can stay as mentally healthy as possible while riding out this illness. Social media, phone calls, Skype/Facetime may all help.

There are several parks and trails in my area and I’ve found that hiking has given me a way to stay physically active while minimizing contact with other people.

Let us all be mindful of our neighbors and friends and reach out in whatever ways we ethically can.

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