Human as we are, we all long to connect. However, in this time of social distancing due to the current global health crisis, we are forced to retreat to our homes and socially isolate. This undeniably can take a toll on our mental health, which, as research says, is worse than high blood pressure, drinking, smoking, and obesity. In this episode, Carrie Miller reminds us that as we take care of our physical health, we should also take notice of our mental health. Loneliness is a real threat, and this pandemic has amplified it. Carrie talks about the importance of socialization, now more than ever, and lays some ways we can keep connecting. In this time of great fear, chaos, and panic, what we need most right now is being surrounded by a community that cares for each other.
Listen to the podcast here:
Social Connection Versus Social Isolation During The COVID-19 Pandemic
Before I get into the main topic of social connection versus social isolation, I’d like to talk about a few things first. We’re all hunkered down right here in April 2020. You’re probably thinking about now, “Carrie, please don’t give us a talk on the Ronavirus.” I call it Rona. My creative daughter came up with that one. I’ve got to touch on the Rona. First and foremost, if you want to know more about what’s popping outside the media and your own government, I highly suggest you follow Dr. Aseem Malhotra. The Dr. Shivas of the world. They are not playing the mind games when it comes to this virus and the wellbeing of millions of people out there. You might take a look at what they advocate, then you can come up with your own conclusions.
Here in America, while you still have a choice and you definitely got the time, you should take full advantage of the freedom we have in this country and do research for yourself. Why do most of us choose to always listen to a one-sided media or any media for that matter or a doctor who only pushes a one-size-fits-all approach to medicine? If you’re one who is scared of this virus, then read up, we have such a thing called Vitamin C. It’s something that is vital for your immune system and you don’t even need a doctor or a prescription field. No conventional doctor on this planet will mention it. That’s lots of medical professionals. Fauci sure has it. I haven’t quite figured that one out yet because we are simply not stupid.
People Who Are Struggling With The Coronavirus
I want to encourage you to keep an open mind for you and your family because your life may depend on it. Remember, you have the right to make your own decisions. You have a choice. I’ve got to tell you, in the media business, I was warned by several colleagues to keep my mouth shut. Don’t give your opinion, don’t be digging into research. Lay it all out there on your podcast for the world to hear because this virus goes away and we can resume a normal life. Let’s focus on LOVE and positivity. I follow a lot of well-known speakers, authors, podcasters, you name it, famous YouTubers, radio announcers. I see what people are posting and advocating for. I totally get that we’ve got to have a positive mindset and love on people because after all, people in this country are hurting, they are losing hope.
I am sad for people who’ve lost loved ones to this virus. I truly am, but it’s not only about those stricken with the Coronavirus. Let’s be honest here. It’s not. What about that single mama with three kids who are struggling to make ends meet because maybe she’s lost her job? You’ve got a daddy out there who’s got laid off or maybe had a cut in pay. He has no idea how he’s going to pay that child support. He’s a single dad. What do you say to those people? What about say the entrepreneurial husband who’s had to lay off tens, if not hundreds of employees and he doesn’t even know where to begin to pick up the pieces or the widow who’s sinking into even a deeper depression because they can’t see their loved ones?
Their loved ones are sitting at home dying of Alzheimer’s maybe. The already thousands of homeless and mentally ill in our communities, did we forget about them? I received some stats from Texas in reference to COVID-19. I’d like to share them with you because it’s important for you to hear the numbers. I’m particularly not a numbers girl, but this made a whole lot of sense to me. You might even take a pen and write them down. Look at them and ask God for some clarity. We have a population of an estimated 29 million living in Texas and 169,536 have been tested for COVID-19. That is 0.0055 or one-half of 1% of the Texas population.You have the right to make your own decisions. You have a choice. Click To Tweet
Seventeen thousand three hundred seventy-one tested positive for COVID-19. That’s 0.0006 or 6/100 of 1% of the Texas population. One thousand five hundred twenty-two have been hospitalized for COVID-19. That’s 0.00005 or 5/1000 of 1% of the Texas population. Four hundred twenty-eight deaths are due to COVID-19. That is 0.000014 or 1/1,000th of 1% of the Texas population. There are counties in Texas that have more suicides than deaths from COVID-19. Doctors at the Cook Children’s Health Care System saw a sudden spike in severe child abuse cases in one week, six children under the age of four, which they suspect are linked to stresses from the pandemic. I’ve got an article here from the Dallas News. It says 750,000 in Texas seek jobless benefits since the Coronavirus. One out of every ten Americans is out of work according to the Labor Department. This was hard to take. The figures collectively constitute the largest and fastest string of job losses in records dating to 1948. During the Great Recession, it took 44 weeks, roughly 10 months for unemployment claims to go as high as they now have in less than a month.
Loneliness Is A Threat
I haven’t even begun to talk about the epidemic of chronic disease that plagues this country. There’s no need to go there because I get on my soapbox plenty in Episode 1. Go check it out. I speak openly about it because that’s what we do here. We speak the truth. We don’t shove it under the rug. Enough of that, and we don’t always paint the pretty picture either. There is nothing wrong with standing up for what’s right with our voice and making sure we’d get on our knees and pray for direction. We all know people who have lost all hope and the very best thing we can do is get in the trenches with people. What I mean by that is first think hard about an event in your life that’s driven you to unbelievable depths mentally, emotionally. Something that’s happened in your life that you never thought you would even see a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel.
Real people need to hear real stories. It’s called being relatable. Let’s all shove that pride aside. If we’ve lived long enough, we’ve been through something that was tragic. How about starting a movement of reconducting again because you might save a life? Good community, caring for others, fellowship with family and friends, and even with strangers can create a number of benefits to your physical and mental health. I’m talking about socialization. Socializing can reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and even Alzheimer’s. The experts say that isolation is worse than high blood pressure, drinking, smoking, and obesity. Let that sink in a bit. We are wired to connect. That is nothing you haven’t heard.
Many of you have read The Blue Zones book by Dan Buettner. He talks about it, the areas with the highest life expectancies in the world. The research shows that what these people do better than the rest of us is socialize. Social interaction is the number one reason people live longer. This isn’t some, “You know what?” Some hooey-phooey new age stuff. This is the real truth. We better wake up especially now. Over the past couple of months, we’ve been disconnected from relationships and community more than ever because of this virus. Loneliness is a real threat, it always has been. This pandemic has spread it on even more. A study published by the global health service company, Sigma, found that 40% of US adults sometimes report or always feeling lonely. The 47% report feeling left out.
This is epidemic levels. Studies show that loneliness, living alone and poor social connections are as bad for your health as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day. It’s worse for you than obesity. Lonely people are more likely to suffer from dementia, heart disease, and depression. Loneliness can likely increase your risk of death by 29%. Any of you know Brené Brown out there? She’s a researcher, professor, storyteller, and our own hometown girl in Houston, Texas. I love her set. She says, “After fifteen years of social work education, I was sure of one thing. The connection is why we’re here. It is what gives us purpose and meaning to our lives.” You might be asking about now, “How the heck am I supposed to connect with others? Socialize? I’m on social media 24/7 talking to people because I got laid off or maybe I’m home with my wife and my kids.”
There may be ten kids. I love kids, but ten kids at lockdown. Let’s look on the bright side of things. At least you’ve got 10, 12 people to come up with all lots of great ideas during the storm. I’m here to help you out with something called connection. I was a ceramic artist for many years. I can be a bit creative at times. For instance, my dad wanted to know how to connect to video chat on Messenger. I thought that was creative. I told him to get the Messenger app. It’s been a great way to connect with my daddy in person. Being the no fear Rona girl that I am, I often get out to any store that will have me. I’ve made many trips to ATB Grocery Store, Home Depot, garden centers, local restaurants for pickup. I’ve even been a few years at Acme Brick Company and Floor & Décor, those poor people. I have wandered around in Home Depot for an hour or two to pick up one item and you can only guess why. If you’re anything like me, I love being around people and if you’re an introvert like my husband, I don’t get it but I love him anyway.
My husband and I have had lunches in downtown areas and religiously we are taking walks together, holding hands. We even act somewhat silly at our age. Look for those of you who have no joy and laughter in your marriage, now’s a great time to get on top of that. It isn’t anything better than a good laugh. The con is that uncontrollable laugh like that laugh where you lose your breath and you’re crying now that is fun and healthy at the same time. For those of you couples who are stressed because you’re living on top of each other, have a glass of wine or margarita, have some sex. Get over your churchy self. Maybe spend some time fishing in a nearby stream or river. Go outside, have some family fun day, have some races. I joined Facebook groups and Bible studies on Zoom.
How To Socialize During This Time
Don’t give me excuses that you run out of things to keep you busy or keep you connected. The list is endless. We’ve even welcomed contractors in our homes to work on some projects. They aren’t scared. All they have their sights on is working hard to send money back to their families in their countries. It’s called survival to them. They feel they don’t have a choice. Please don’t judge. If you want to be scared of this virus and for some reason you get a wild hair, grab your mask and gloves and go volunteer at a food bank or restaurant. Maybe a nonprofit, they will all welcome you. I promise you that. If you go to the grocery store and liquor store, you can offer a handout to others. Give back. If you think about it, that word, giving, is there any word more powerful than that? Giving matters. We find joy in giving.
In fact, acts of kindness reduce anxiety and strengthen the immune system. It’s something we should all be focusing on. Everybody’s all up in arms about the virus. If you multiply kindness, you see the world change. Let’s get out of our comfort zones and lend a hand. Speak a kind word. Look for those opportunities to help someone else. Look around you. People are hurting everywhere. Open your eyes. For those of you who have kids and you’re looking for activities besides the boob tube on the iPad, let me suggest a few. My kids are all adults now, but I can remember like it was yesterday. All the creative fun we sed to have so much fun. For instance, if I repainted a room. I’ve been known to paint the same room more than two or three times. I’d pull the old leftover paint from the garage and let the kids draw on the walls before I even started painting.Real people need to hear real stories. Click To Tweet
On many occasions, I’d pull the water hose outside and spray the kids in the backyard or on the trampoline. It’s dangerous. That trampoline was prayed over. Thank you, Laurie Benson. The kids never got seriously hurt. Thank you, Jesus. Let’s see what else? We bought rabbits and the kids got to see how rabbits made babies. When they got old enough, they would sell them to the best families they could find people who loved animals. I remember my daughter and son having a long list of questions for each family. If they locked the family’s answers and they pass the test. That was their so-called test. They’d like their answers. The family would go home with a rabbit. They were serious about that. It was too cute. When my oldest son was preschool age, I’d tape together old boxes and make a tunnel, or I’d set up a box upright and he would crawl inside and pretend he was some Jack in the Box.
He wouldn’t do that once or twice, but I’m talking analysts’ popups. It was so fun for him. I even removed a mattress on a bed, added a board and set up a tea party. You don’t have to run to Target and spend money on another board game. A game of tickle time on the floor can be a whole lot more engaging than a board game unless it’s Pictionary. Get creative, build some memories, and make it fun when this all passes, and this too shall pass. You can find connections with people at coffees, lunches, book clubs, gardening classes, some religious gatherings, exercise classes, meetups. It’s endless, concerts, I’ve written down neighborhood nights, potlucks, volunteering, and retreats. Reach out to others, be the hands and feet of Jesus, and let people know you care, so that our world can heal and continue to be the nation of nourishment for others. Thank you for joining me. It’s been my pleasure to serve you.