Isolation Anxiety 
and the NEED for Connection
June 2020
I've been witnessing many labels, names, references for the state of humanity's way of being during this pandemic. Initially I heard orders to isolate, then it rapidly shifted into encouragement to stop calling it that and new terms applied to the phenomena - like social distancing. The trouble or potential trouble with that classification is that it denies the effects of the isolation mandate. Granted, not everyone is under the effects of isolation, the masses are in one way or another affected by it.
Here's some factual information, "heady" and important for these challenging times we're in. I pray that you reflect, and choose ways of being that uplift you, even though the patterned ways of being seem dense.
From Bowen Family Systems Theory:

Acute anxiety is the response to a real threat, which is often time limited. A car moving toward you; someone about to drop a bowling ball on your toe; or a broken bone for example. We navigate this anxiety more easily. HOWEVER,

Chronic anxiety is the response to imagined threats, therefore it is not time limited. Therefore, we are immersed in a pressure cooker of stress and often unaware of it.
The symptoms exhibit through:
  • Catastrophic thinking - constant worries - continual "what if" fears.
  • Tendency to exaggerate the level of threat - and/or minimize risk-taking. 
  • Spreading panic, resulting in vulnerability to poor decision-making or instinctual survival triggering.  
  • Irritability - shorter fuses, fight, flight, or freeze behavior.  
  • Active and reactive interpretations of other people's behaviors, attitudes, actions or inactions, based on inaccurate and altered perceptual frameworks.
The consequences and impact of anxiety on human beings include:
  • Behavior becomes more instinctual, knee-jerk, automatic, therefore less sensibly guided. 
  • Falling into an attack-defend pattern. 
  • Distancing in important relationships; or pursuit of others in an anxious way. 
  • Seeking to coerce others in ways that violate basic norms of human behavior.  
  • Seeking alliances through triangle building instead of open direct face-to-face conversations. 
  • Internalizing or denying anxiety; and becoming emotionally, physically, or socially symptomatic.  
  • Doom and gloom messages, rather than a measured assessment of the challenge.  
  • Pushing for quick fix solutions. 
  • Loss of consistency between message and behavior.  
  • Blaming of others - denying one's own responsibility
Which of these can you notice in your emotionality, mental spheres or in your family or workplace?
We have some other new options for those willing to lead and self-differentiate during this time. We can build our stamina for the intensity of the situations and circumstances and therefore:
  • Maintain emotional objectivity vs. subjecting self to anxious affects.
  • Speak in terms of "This is what I believe," "This is what I disagree about", "This is what I will do and won't do".
  • Live and lead from being "principle-directed and goal-directed" -  be more sure of beliefs, but not dogmatic, demanding or critical of others.
  • Demonstrate courage by leaning into a problem - while also owning one's own part. 
  • Practice self-regulation of reactivity. We can manage our own triggers of reactivity and therefore be calmer and quicker to restore our calm.
  • Maintain contact with others in the system - listen to others, including the ones that disagree with us.
What's at the root of potential adverse effects of social distancing? The human need for connection. Factors include:
  • Humans are a social species.  
  • Humans experience "pain" when the need for meaningful social connection is not met. 
  • People are genetically predisposed for social connection.
When this need goes unmet - loneliness and other mental, emotional and physical symptoms develop.
Loneliness can impact cellular events that compromise one's health. There is a tendency to have higher blood pressure, cravings for fatty foods and lower energy.
When feeling isolated, the stress response can kick in the feelings of being insecure and threatened.
The constant presence of stress hormones act as a corrosive force on the body systems. The stress of loneliness can damage the cardiovascular system.
Loneliness diminishes that control, which can lead to generating hostility. It can make one demanding or critical. Because isolation can make one feel unsafe, the focus becomes on threats. Such fear can foster a tendency to preemptively blame others. Loneliness can be an enabler of conflict, causing one to be more critical. Which of these are your dominant patterns?
Feeling left out can reduce executive function and impair mental performance. It can undermine the ability to think clearly. Lonely people are less able to persist in the face of adversity. It can lead to a lack of persistence and foster learned helplessness. One is less likely to see a stressor as an invigorating challenge and have greater tendency for avoidance.
"Connection is my responsibility and my right."  
~ Martha Creek
Albeit challenging during these times, it is vital that we continue to find meaningful ways for connection and to avoid the tendencies to further isolate. Please take responsibility for your own well-being during this time and reach out to family members, church members, co-workers, neighbors, youth groups, former classmates, etc. to be part of their support system for connection also.
I have been so inspired this month watching folks find meaningful, joyful, and critical ways of connecting that include, mask making, scrapbooking, family game nights, graduations, births, deaths, birthday celebrations (all via zoom or other face-to-face technology) - If you haven't discovered these, HURRY and do it - They are relatively easy-peasy and provide immeasurable ways to share, create, connect in all types of interactions. I love hearing that some neighbors drove all around their community and notice where the "Graduation" signs were in yards, then went out and purchased gift cards and dropped them off - without physical touch. I witnessed my dear young Hadilyn's devoted Head Start teachers drive to each and every child's home and drop off a basket of goodies, a graduation shirt, a butterfly to release and videoed it all for them to have later. My favorite part about humans. They care and show it - at least a majority of the time.
"Spirituality is all about connection - connection with inner self and the Self that is in every being."
~ Amit Ray - Walking The Path Of Compassion
"A hidden connection is stronger than an obvious one."  
~ Heraclitus of Ephesus
"It's so weird how connecting with someone in a different setting can bring out this whole other side of them. Like how certain places inspire us to act in ways we normally wouldn't."  
~ Susane Colasanti
Infinite blessings to and for you all as you connect with SELF, your Creator and all manner of us crazy human beings in our One Family.
Greatest of love,
Martha Creek

Martha Creek



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