By: Marita Fridjhon
Part 2 of the Cultivating Belonging Series • Conscious Connection in a Time of Isolation
Imagine aerialists in a high wire act - how they must retain a deep awareness of one another to maintain their sense of balance at a precarious height. In a pandemic year, we too find ourselves in a balancing act, with the movement of one affecting us all.
For many in the United States, our social construct created distinct environments for home, work and school. As the pandemic took hold, the lines blurred and our comfortable habits disappeared overnight.
Isolation and physical distancing now require us to interact with the outside world through the portal of a computer screen.
When it comes to fostering a sense of belonging, texts and emails are not the same as face-to-face meetings. In her Ted Talk referenced in Part 1 of this series, Susan Pinker explains the importance of connecting live. Eye contact and physical interaction release oxytocin, helping to build trust, while reducing cortisol levels, which lowers stress.
The work of Elizabeth Redcay at the University of Maryland supports Pinker. Redcay’s research found in her research that brain activity is significantly higher during live, dynamic interactions than while watching a static presentation.
This research casts new light on our collective loss of a sense of belonging, and reveals some of the impact that physical distancing has on our mental well-being.