I know quite a few introverts who are having existential crises during quarantine because they’re craving social interaction like they never have before. It’s not that they’ve suddenly become extroverted, it’s simply the fact that we are all wired for a minimum amount of human connection and right now no one is getting that required amount.
Humans don’t just like social interaction, we need it. And, when we don’t get it there are very real physiological effects.
WHAT’S HAPPENING PHYSIOLOGICALLY
You’re Experiencing a Traumatic Event - We are all experiencing a joint traumatic event together without the ability to truly grieve or cope together due to necessary isolation. Your body is experiencing the same physical effects that accompany all forms of trauma - unbalanced chemicals in the brain, heightened cortisol levels for an extended period of time, and your “fight or flight” section of your brain is online 24/7. Studies on previous pandemics found that up to 30% of quarantined individuals suffered from PTSD after the quarantine orders were over.
WHAT TO DO: Seek professional help through tele-therapy. Reach out to your therapist (or give me a call) to schedule a time to talk weekly and navigate this traumatic time together.
Lack of Movement Can Cause Muscles Atrophy - Studies have shown that just two weeks of inactivity can begin to negate gains to your heart and muscle mass. Even if you weren’t hitting the gym every day before quarantine, you still probably had a much higher level of physical activity than you do now. Muscle atrophy is the process by which muscles waste away due to lack of physical activity and we are all, most likely, experiencing this to some degree during quarantine.
WHAT TO DO: Keep moving! Set aside at least 30 minutes each day to get your heart rate up and move your body. This could look like a walk outside with your dog, a guided workout video, or a local hike.
Note: There is NOTHING wrong with gaining weight during quarantine. Your body will likely go through many different changes during this time and adding a few extra pounds does NOT need to be on your list of worries. Be kind to your body and to yourself.
Your Soul is Starving - This one may sound dramatic but it is actually true! Humans are made for connection, our physical well being depends on it. Professor of psychology and neuroscience, Julian Holt-Lunstad, says “If we think about loneliness as this adaptive response, kind of like hunger or thirst, it’s this unpleasant state that motivates us to seek out social connections just like hunger motivates us to seek out food”. In other words, your soul is hungry for connection and the pain, loneliness, and general discomfort we are all feeling right is just our body’s way of telling us what we need.
WHAT TO DO: Keep reaching out to others. It may be a little while until we can all be together in person again, but don’t let physical distance stop you from connecting with friends. Call your loved ones on the phone or set up a daily facetime with family to re-connect.
We are all going through this tragic time together and we will all make it through this together. If there is anything at all that I can do to help you during this time please out via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my office at (310) 614-0323.