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Why do we need to re-learn how to socialize after an epidemic?

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Christine Rowe – BBC Work Life

Posted on 08/29/2021 6:53 PM

Became a podcast presenter Dear Wisdom, Daniel M. Lavery often advises directly from New York. He also occasionally reveals his own concerns, as in a recent episode in which he responds to a lone university student who is concerned about social contact during the Kovid-19 epidemic. Lavery identified herself:

“It’s really hard to think around people again. One thing that bothers me when I think about the possibility of ever being in a room full of people who do not wear masks is that I have been waiting so long that day. . “

Many of us are in the same boat. For a year, we were forced to be anti-social, at least physically.

As a result, a lot of people find any personal social interaction weird – it seems like we need to re-learn how to sit in a room with another man.

With the tendency towards nightmares related to social distance, even dreams were transformed in an unprecedented way.

When restrictions end, do we have to go through a learning curve to feel ‘normal’? Our social muscles are somehow damaged, do we have to “exercise” again?

Fortunately, these muscles are perfectly immune, and reports from areas affected by Kovid-19 indicate that some versions of social normalcy may not take long to recover.

Still, some setbacks are expected along the way. So it will be helpful to prepare for them.

Your brain is isolated

Not surprisingly, many of us feel socially “rusty”.

During the epidemic we all experience loneliness and social isolation to varying degrees, and two ways are associated with cognitive decline in specific ways.

For example, people with small, complex social networks may have a small amygdala, the brain’s emotion processing center.

Chronic loneliness can affect stress and hormonal levels associated with social relationships; One consequence of this is a higher risk of depression. In general, lonely people are more insane and negative.

Prolonged isolation affects memory and verbal reminders. Social creatures, including humans, need a lot of sensory stimulation to keep their brains in good shape.

So, if you are currently having difficulty finding the word on the tip of your tongue, lockdown may play a role.

In my case, 90% of the time now, I only talk to my partner, in a way that I can talk to.

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I feel a little trembling when talking to a friend, as if I need to find a language I was once familiar with.

Once you allow people to spend time together, it can be hard to find the right words.

Of course, as individual circumstances vary widely, so does the transition to social life after an epidemic.

An unemployed, clinically vulnerable person who has lived alone longer than a financially stable person living and working in a large shared home may experience more discomfort at the next stage.

Overall, some changes in behavior can be quickly reversed through a return to more normal social patterns.

But Daniela Rivera, a biologist at the University of Chile’s Mayor de Santiago, believes that physical changes in the brain associated with memory do not go away easily.

When certain parts of the brain contract, memory functions are impaired for years after periods of social isolation – as well as our ability to communicate easily with other people.

But it’s not just how our brains have changed.

Overall, psychologists find that more adults are stressed about social interactions, from not knowing how to end interactions without a handshake or hug, until the conversation is over.

But some groups are specific sources of concern.

This situation is especially sensitive for people with social anxiety.

“Maintaining progress is very important – because once you haven’t been close to people, it’s very easy to go back to the old patterns because we haven’t been around for a year,” explains Marla Genoa, now a psychoanalytic psychologist and social and verbal anxiety trainer.

There are also concerns about school-age children who have lost social cohesion in the uncertainty of lockdowns.

“At this age, the brain is still developing and modifying neural connectivity, so this is a critical step in developing the social skills that define your interactions with your peers,” Rivera explains.

She fears that prolonged isolation will lead some to social phobia.

Older people are more likely to live alone and do not feel comfortable with the technological tools to maintain social contact.

Rivera predicts that the period of re-socialization will have some effect on vulnerable people, such as highway activity, intolerance, anger, and anxiety.

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How to go back slowly

Extended lockdowns and different cultures provide different experiences when countries issue regulations. But some generalities and lessons can be observed.

Physical contact, an aspect that was once taken lightly around others, may feel uncomfortable for a while.

According to Andre Roble, who runs a travel agency in Quito, Ecuador, where some restrictions have been lifted, “It’s a little strange that such a socially friendly society is so far removed from their compliments.”

“Elbow Bump became the new hello salute,” he says.

Hugging again is hard for other people.

For Melanie Musson, an insurance specialist living in Montana, the problem that requires some calibration is to find out each person’s different attitudes about the risk of contracting the disease.

The number of cases in the state is slowly declining and it is deeply divided over the use of masks.

“It’s weird when I meet people who care about Kovid,” Musson explains. “Because I’m mostly surrounded by people I do not care about, I’m living in a bubble of normalcy. There are a lot of people out there who disagree with that and feel uncomfortable.

In fact, masked socialization helps to make things more normal in Singapore, says Roger Ho, a psychologist at the National University of Singapore: “Life is as normal as wearing a mask.”

Past experience with using masks such as the SARS epidemic and high compliance with government requirements have helped.

Ho suggests that socialization in this way would help make public education look worse in places where masks are resistant.

One way to reduce the judgment about dating and reduce the panic about the crowd is to narrow down your social circle, many people report doing it.

Family outdoors

When we see people around the world starting to celebrate in groups, we are encouraged by the inherent social resistance of human beings.

“It’s not been a year of introducing some of your friends to other friends they do not know. Matilda Marcellice is a French culture blogger based in Adelaide, Australia.

In fact, as a matter of physical and mental well-being, many have suggested that we should be more selective about who we choose to communicate with.

Research by Richard Slacher, a psychologist at the University of Georgia in the United States, and his colleagues suggest that the great loss of normal social contact can be partially remedied by strengthening the immediate family ties and close friendships that people generally value the most.

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Part of social redemption means learning how to reuse time and energy invested in family with friends, colleagues and acquaintances, without losing closeness with loved ones.

Gradual retrofit

Throughout the process, it is important that we have patience and kindness.

As the US National Center for Social Inquisition advises, “remember that each of us is now socially unsettled to some degree.”

No need to rush to avoid separation.

One of the positive aspects of the long-term vaccination campaign is that “slow reading of this process will help rebuild,” Slacher says, emphasizing our vision.

“Some of the pressures that are coming in, like getting guests back home, can be a good stress.”

For those who find it difficult to reorganize in society, treatment for social anxiety disorder may offer some perspective.

This is often included in exposure therapy, i.e., gradual exposure to uncomfortable conditions to make them more tolerant.

Despite the rules for maintaining social distance, there are still ways to gain this exposure – for example, you can share comments on social media or share comments to practice practice.

Avoiding social situations can only be further avoided.

Therefore, Genoa, a social anxiety trainer, encourages people not to spend more than a few days in isolation whenever possible. But that does not mean physical contact.

Biologist Rivera, for example, recommends “different types of environmental enrichment” to control the stress of isolation.

These include physical activities such as riding a bike, social activities such as virtual “cafes”, cognitive activities such as brain training games, and emotional activities such as therapy.

Finally, remember the social commitment around us to answer the phone, imitate a hug, or even find out if we feel comfortable when a friend suggests a date. Can help.

Symbolic photos of crowded swimming pools during a music festival in Wuhan, China, where the epidemic began, illustrate how the world can return to social life when it is safe.

Festival in Wuhan

Getty Images
Thousands of people packed for a music festival in Wuhan

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