One Week Toward Less Stress- Day 4

In our effort to reduce our stress during this trying time we have so far taken 3 steps in that positive direction…

Step #1 Get Outside

Step #2 Get Some Exercise

Step #3 Get Enough Sleep

Today we look at Step #4 Reach out and touch call someone!

Research continues to show that one significant difference between very happy people and less happy people is good relationships. Social connection is a fundamental human need. Even as far back as 1954 when Maslow developed his hierarchy of human needs he called “love and belongingness” one of his five important needs for psychological growth and development. Humans are wired from birth to connect. Ask any new mother what happens in her body when her infant cries. Her body produces oxytocin as a signal for her to bond with her baby. Oxytocin is also released when we hold hands, hug, and engage in other physical touch, including petting an animal!

Strong social relationships have a positive impact on our physical and mental health, including:

  • Boosting our immune system
  • Increasing our self esteem and empathy
  • Reducing anxiety and depression
  • Decreasing feelings of loneliness
  • Regulating emotions

Research shows that a lack of human connection can be more harmful to our health than obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure! With the current need for social distancing due to COVID19 it is really important that we make concerted effort to stay socially connected. So how to we do this and maintain appropriate, safe social distancing? Here are some ideas…

  • Reach out to a friend you haven’t talked to recently…Call, Facetime, Zoom. It may not feel the same as seeing them in person but it is definitely better than not connecting at all!
  • Introduce yourself to your neighbors.
  • Ask for help when needed and/or offer help to others, i.e. Do you have an elderly neighbor that needs someone to do her errands during the pandemic?
  • Volunteer for a cause you believe in. Some volunteer work can still be done in a safe manner.
  • Walk your dog in your neighborhood. Dogs often bring people together!

Frequently when we feel stressed our tendency is to want to isolate, stay in bed, or in our pajamas all day binging on Netflix. But that will not make us feel better. In fact, it will likely make us feel worse!

Is there someone you haven’t spoken to in quite a while? Reach out today! You will both likely feel the benefit from the connection.


About Gretchen Derda (Woosley), MSW, LCSW

I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in a private psychotherapy practice where I specialize in work with families and children. My focus is to help families improve their functioning so that each member of the family can reach their full potential, becoming the persons they were meant to be.
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