The strongest predictor of resilience is having a social support network. Humans evolved to survive in groups, which is why loneliness can be a detriment to your health. The pandemic has made this more challenging by barring us from large group and family gatherings. However, social distancing should not mean social isolation. By understanding our ancestral needs, especially when our favorite real life gatherings are unavailable, we can still find ways to stay connected with our friends, family, and community.

For me, Zoom technology has been a godsend. It has helped sustained my business by keeping me connected with my fitness community and allowing me to teach virtual fitness classes. I also use Zoom for meetings with friends, family, and colleagues.

When I’m not working I try to get outside each day for a walk or run on Davis greenbelts, crossing paths with other recreationalists and sometimes stopping to chat with neighbors. I also meet with a group of friends each week to play golf. The inconveniences of technology or having to wear a mask while keeping your distance in public, are definitely worth the tradeoff and better for your emotional health than being socially isolated.

Psychologist, Julianne Holt-Lunstad found that social isolation not only affects our mental health but is twice as harmful to a person’s physical health as obesity. Isolation can even make people more vulnerable to chronic diseases: researchers have determined that “a lonely person’s immune system responds differently to fighting viruses, making them more likely to develop an illness.”

I’m sure we are all looking forward to the day where we can gather again without our masks and not worry about keeping our distance from others. However, while we’re still taking precautions during the pandemic, we can safely find ways to prevent loneliness and stay connected. The Be Resilient Project website offers our members live-streaming fitness classes, and interactive wellness and community blogs to help you stay engaged and connected during these uncertain times. This link will give you some other ideas on staying connected:

Share Your Wellness Thoughts: How are you staying connected with others, and what are you most hoping to do when it’s safe to gather with people again? Join our conversation below.