Especially During a Pandemic
We as human beings are social creatures by nature. We value time spent with family, friends, co-workers, and members of the church. However, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to bring all connections and companionship to a halt.
Lack of Human Interaction is Hurting our Health
More than ever, we rely on our devices and social media outlets to stay connected, using FaceTime, Zoom, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and even TikTok to stay connected. All of these platforms are fantastic tools that we have at our disposal to bring communion, laughter, and excitement into our lives. Social media in Canada is used by sixty-seven percent of the population, and by the year 2025, that number will be nearly eighty percent1.
However, social media can become replacements for real-life human interaction. We spend hours on social media, isolated, and in front of our devices. Our lack of human connection due to our current restrictions can negatively impact our physical and mental health.
So what can we do?
We’ve all experienced negative impacts of isolation this past year, and our mental health may have taken a toll as well. Social isolation brings about anxiety, stress, depression, and difficulty processing information2. We need to ask ourselves: What social media platforms/apps am I spending too much time on, and how else can I connect with others in a fulfilling way?
We need to ask ourselves: What social media platforms/apps am I spending too much time on, and how else can I connect with others in a fulfilling way?
Phones are equipped with the ability to set time limits, so you are able to set allowances and limits for your app use and schedule downtime.
When restrictions have allowed, my wife and I have gone for walks with family members or close friends, which has greatly improved our feeling of connection with others rather than connecting through a device. Seeing people face to face is known to greatly reduce stress and improves our mood3.
Throughout this pandemic, I have made a conscious effort to get outdoors more and make the most of the season we are in. During the summer, I went on several hikes in various provincial parks and trails, ran outside, and golfed whenever I could. This past winter, I took advantage of the snow and ice by skating on the river, tobogganing, and going for walks around the city. Simply getting outside for some fresh air helps alleviate anxiety, stress and calms my mind and body4.
There are several moments in my life when I felt in complete awe of God’s creation. A few big “wow” moments have been visiting the Grand Canyon, the turquoise waters in the Gulf of Mexico, and the unique rock formations in Zion National Park. Although these scenes are spectacular, I find myself appreciating God’s creation locally in watching the sunset at the beach in the summer, or the snow-covered pine trees on a hike, and the stillness and silence beyond city limits.
God is pleased when we delight in his creation (Ps 37:4) and give him glory. Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” We are blessed to experience the glory of the Lord through the creation he has set before us. God’s creation is meant to bring him glory, and we benefit from experiencing that glory in nature. Unmistakably, our mental health and physical well-being is improved when we spend time and appreciate the work of his hands.
1 Social networking in Canada. Statista. statista.com/topics/2729/social-networking-in-canada/#:~:text=After%20years%20of%20constant%20growth
2 Robinson, S. (2019, January 4). What are the effects of total isolation? An expert explains. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/what-are-the-effects-of-total-isolation-an-expert-explains-109091
3 Robinson, L., & Smith, M. (2020, January 16). Social Media and Mental Health. helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/social-media-and-mental-health.htm
4 Mental health benefits of spending time in nature. (2019, October 6). Parks Blog. ontarioparks.com/parksblog/mental-health-benefits-outdoors/