Reach Out: The Value Of Genuine Connection During This Pandemic
When was the last time you actually reached out to someone?
When was the last time you reached out to a friend or family member? And I don't mean reaching out by replying to an Instagram story or sending an emoji reaction to a post. We've long accepted that we already live in a digital age, but that certainly does not mean we have to leave all human interaction to cyberspace. Being in quarantine for an extended (and we mean 21 months and counting) period of time has left us isolated, leaving us unaware of the effects this has on our ability to interact with other human beings.
Being connected on Zoom may ease some of the pain, but nothing beats face-to-face interaction, where we are truly able to feed off of one another's energy. But because of the restraints this season has on our ability to meet others, the next best thing, perhaps, is to go old school and pick up that phone and give your loved one an actual voice call. Problem is, even that has become awkward to do these days. How do we cope with isolation and its negative effects on our mental health then?
We reached out to one of our go-to experts on mental health Saps Uttam, a Mental/Emotional/Spiritual Inner Child Therapist and Integrative Nutritionist who is passionate about helping people deal with emotional issues, trauma, and the like. Just a few days ago, on World Mental Health Day, we also tapped Saps to talk to us about Zoom dysmorphia, another mental health issue, and a by-product of the being in this pandemic.
Ahead, she discusses the value of community as social beings, and why reaching out can be the key to help alleviate how you are feeling right now—whether you may just be simply missing someone or are in dire need of someone to talk to. Keep reading!
Metro.Style: After almost two years of being in different stages of quarantine, people have become more isolated than ever before. A lot of us don't even know how to carry on a conversation anymore. Why does this endanger our mental health?
Saps Uttam: The phrase 'social distancing' is a mighty big one. We cannot distance ourselves from people, from our emotions, from having connections. As human beings we thrive through connection. Isolation is basically making us go inward and very much in our head. The isolation feels real when we cant hug someone and see someone smile. Isolation is heavy, it makes us feel alone. So thus this will endanger our mental well-being. Normally when we have face-to-face conversations, we can see how the person is reacting to what were saying. How our emotions, our pain, and joy is written in our faces, and when we isolate, we don't see that anymore. It almost feels like it is foreign when it should be basic. Everyone and everything thrives on connections.
MS: How does reaching out to someone as well as asking others for help matter in the mental health realm?
SU: We cannot be alone and we need people, we live through connection. Reaching out is the most basic thing to do, yet we struggle because of judgment. We are so afraid to be judged for being weak and for having basic human emotions/needs. People judge too much so it can make it harder to ask for help. We were also brought up to be strong. However, no one ever sat us down to say asking for help may just be the most strongest thing you can ever do for yourself. So we should break the stigma and really ask for help when we need to. Asking someone to hold space is the most beautiful thing we can ever do yet seems like it is so in our heads to even do so. So breaking the stigma and really asking for help should be something that we need to focus on, and to really speak about it so everyone knows that its okay to not be okay.
MS: People are often scared of being judged when they speak up about their struggles. How can one break these ideas and learn how to talk about their troubles?
SU: Start slow, start with a good friend, start with someone whom you know can hold space for you. My advise for the person holding space is to listen. We as humans seem to have forgotten to just listen. People don't come to us so that they we can sort out their lives; people come to us so that they can hurl their inner most feelings and gather their thoughts and move in the space they need to and in the season they are in. Do not make it about you because it isn’t. It is about the human being with the pent up emotions looking for some solace even if it is just for a while.
MS: Being connected online 24/7, we often deceive ourselves to think we are always connected. What do meaningful conversations entail these days? How can we be more present for conversations with our loved ones and people who need our help?
SU: Being connected online 24/7 is not the way to be “connected”. We think that we have to make up for the fact that we can’t be there in person but we cannot give off of ourselves 24/7. We cannot be there for someone when we are spent and depleted. My advise would be is to learn to listen and to not react to someone who wants you to be present with whatever it is that they'r saying. Meaningful conversations for me would probably sound like, "How can I be of help?" So rare to hear but so needed in today's world. We ask others 'how are you', but never wait for their response let alone even listen to them. We just want to get to it, to the heart of the matter. It is so robotic, so if this is the case, then how can we even have meaningful conversations anymore when we cant even listen to a response such as 'how are you?'
My advise would be—it's okay to not be okay. Take it one day at a time. Know that you aren’t alone in this and that you need to be heard. People want to hear what you have to say. We see people, but sadly we don't hear them. So let us start with being good and kind to ourselves and then we can be kind to others. Having empathy is what truly matters. Don't judge yourself for being human, that’s what you are, human a beautiful being and life isn’t perfect. Don't be too hard on yourself and know that there are many of us out here wanting and willing to hold the space for you.
Interested to learn more from Saps Uttam? Follow her on Instagram @innerglowbysaps