Generally speaking, humans are social creatures who need interaction with other people for peak mental and social development. Since the COVID-19 pandemic first began to ravage large parts of the country in March of 2020. However, people have been forced to reevaluate to what degree of importance they wish to give that social aspect of human nature.
For many, being social with their peers is already a difficult enough task without a pandemic, and the foils that come along with it dictating how social we can be with each other. With this being said, the impact that having social relationships, or a lack thereof, has on mental health cannot be understated enough during a period in time, where depression and anxiety is at an all time high for not only college students, but everyone.
Many people would claim that they have an aversion to being social and being forced to socialize in venues that make them feel uncomfortable, such as school and on their jobs. The truth of the matter however, is that we all desire some aspect of socialization and human interaction in some form or another, whether this being with a small circle of friends, your family, or your significant other.
With this in mind, it’s important to note how each of these relationships and their consistency over time impacts the individual when that consistency is compromised, due to a seemingly overnight change in national protocol as it relates to social interaction. At the onset of COVID-19’s emergence in the United States, millions were sent home from their schools and jobs with little regard to how this would affect their mental health.
Despite the reality that said social exodus was completely necessary in order to safely respond to the threat that COVID-19 presented to us all.
Since that moment in time, people have had to make compromises to their own socialization practices as locations such as parks, tourist attractions, restaurants, and clubs, among many others have had to change in order to return to some sense of normalcy in everyday life. For some people however, this change is easier said than done.
On an individual basis, there’s no statistics or data charts that can accurately reflect the effect that upending carefully crafted daily routines and practices has on the average person who may or may not already have a propensity to struggle with their mental health in normal circumstances, yet alone in a global pandemic.
And yet, this is no fault of any one person or group of people, rather it’s the situation that we have found ourselves in as a people; either adapt and make the change work for you, or don’t. As harsh as this reality may seem, it’s the one that we currently find ourselves subject to in more ways than one.
In 2021 more than any other time in recent history, it’s up to the individual to allocate the proper time and care into maintaining their own social relationships and mental health, if for no other reason than no one else will. Check on your friends, let them know that you are there for them, and if your bonds are true, you will hopefully get that same reassurance in response. But if not, it’s our personal responsibility to maintain balance within ourselves and create internal and external safe spaces that can coexist in this new, less socially available world.