When we are in situations where there are greater uncertainty and stress, it is common for worry and fear to increase. When we are not around other humans because our brains are actually wired for relationship and connection (introvert or not), we can feel sadness and loneliness. These feelings are all in the category of “social pain”.
Social pain usually refers to experiencing rejection or loss. This occurs in our interpersonal world and can range from feeling excluded in social interactions to feeling real grief and loss. This emotional pain can actually activate physical pain systems.
Sometimes psychology and emotions can be so intangible and abstract. We can minimize and dismiss it by encouraging people who are struggling to simply “deal with it”. While there is a balance of doing the work to get yourself in an emotionally positive and healthy place, there is also truth to pain experienced, even from emotions. Social pain is a real thing and in research studies, it showed how the same regions of the brain that are activated when there is physical pain are activated when they experience rejection or social pain.
Given what is happening with the COVID-19 situation, there are emotional impacts and it is clear people are experiencing many emotions. Some might include fear, isolation, loneliness, separation, sadness, anxiety, etc. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- If this is you, it is normal and you are not alone! There are things you can do.
This article on Social Pain talks about a few ideas.
- socially connect – reach out to a few people each day (email, text, video, etc.)
- get good rest/sleep
- get exercise (walk, yoga, etc.)
- be in sunlight (health experts frequently talk about Vitamin D and omegas)
- laugh more
- do things that help to create positive feelings
- for more ideas see 25 Ideas to Boost your Serotonin / Mood in Stressful Times
- If this is not you, it is likely someone in your sphere might be feeling this way.
- Be mindful and compassionate in how you respond.
- Be thankful for your ability to be in a positive space. It is a gift.
- Use your energy to uplift and encourage, to check in on people and touch base.
- Take time daily to “recharge” yourself. (journal, mindfulness, meditation, etc.)
It seems most humans have a bit of ebb and flow these days. If you are a leader, you are called to lead strong. If you are a parent, provider, teacher, etc. you are called to show up and help others keep moving forward in the face of uncertainty and unusual rhythms. This “climate” has the potential to wear on everyone, so take care of yourself and be intentional to show compassion to others, stay connected and give yourself extra recharge time!
Neuroscience article on how social pain shows up, creates physical symptoms and what to do.
Article on Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and Their Role in Chronic Pain Management