A CLOSER LOOK: societal impacts of “social distancing”

A Closer Look

A social distance could make for a closer relationship!

ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — A person who doesn’t want to socialize is different than a recommendation not to socialize. The other extreme situation? Families who are at home with one another 24-7 and there may be no way out — emotionally speaking.

Across the country, the phrase “social distancing” is used by government officials as a way to deter the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Social distancing survival

This new relationship building, whether as a single person or two or more people hunkered together at home, may bring different levels of emotion — and for some, it could trigger a breaking point.

Relationships First Spokesperson Sharon Roberts has suggestions about keeping your distance and keeping an open line of communication in place.

Keeping space from people outside of your family puts more of an importance with the conversations you have. “Make it a two-way street,” said Roberts. If a person tends to dominate a conversation leaving you “speechless” here is a suggestion how you can also have your ideas, or emotions, expressed. The process is called face conversation and Roberts explains the three steps.

  • 1 – Mirroring. You say, “let me see if I got that,” and then repeat what they said, and ask, “did I get that?” And let the other person confirm or clarify.
  • 2 – Validate. You say, “that makes sense.” That does not mean you need to agree with them, you’re just validating what they said.
  • 3 – Empathize. Say something such as, “I can imagine.” “I understand” (what they are saying). This way the person knows you’re paying attention.

These steps create safety measures so people can connect. This is important to do this since most of society can only connect by talking and listening. “It’s important in these times because it’s all we have,” said Roberts.

Right now many people are having conversations through video conferencing. “We call those conversations ‘Safe Conversations’ and it can be used on any platform,” she said.

Human connection is very important.

It is possible to connect by digital platform or phone. “Maybe a person who lives alone should reach out to friend, family or neighbor who they know could be a positive influence … they engage with people who can (emotionally) support them,” said Roberts.

While they may prefer be alone, now they’re forced to be alone and that’s a different feeling. “So for this person reaching out to someone they trust is important,” said Roberts.

On the other hand, some people don’t have the option for space. “It’s okay to go outside,” said Roberts. “People need to take care of themselves. When you take care of yourself, you can show up in a healthy way for all your relationships.”

The Relations First expert suggests for people to create a schedule, a routine during this distancing time. “This is helpful since a lot of the routines were set under a different set of circumstances,” she said. “A new routine during this unusual time would help people to know what to expect. This can be applied for a family and an individual.”

Relationships First avoids using the phrase, “social distancing.” The organization recommends using “physical distancing” and to practice “social connecting.”

Our message of hope is for everyone: human connection is still possible and vital.

The agency offers a tip a day titled, “Coronavirus Times Relationship Tip.”

Tip number 5, Tuesday, March 24: “take turns talking.”

Tip number 6, Wednesday, March 25: “it’s okay to not know things!”

Relationships First background:

In July 2010, Harville Hendrix, Ph. D., and his partner Helen LaKelly Hunt, Ph.D., invited six therapists and their spouses for a weekend discussion about collaborating on a project to translate their therapy systems and processes into educational curricula that could be distributed in the public domain. What began as a think-tank of distinguished relationship experts has grown into a dynamic group that has come together to catalyze a national healthy relationship movement — and to provide public access to the best science-based resources on building and sustaining healthy relationships.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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