How is the term "Social Distancing" affecting our psyche?

Words are powerful; let's find new terms for Social Distancing which help us to still feel emotionally connected to one another.

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Words are powerful. Some say that words shape thought or perception; They say that The Inuit people have 100 words for snow, thus an Inuit person’s perception of snow would be more refined than, someone who lives in a city.(another post about this idea in more detail at a later date).

I’ve been thinking a lot about this in relation to the term Social Distancing, and have seen many other posts exploring this on my social media feeds. It’s true that feelings are heightened during this time; under stress, some of our attributes or personality traits become “more than”.

For example, as a playful soul I am always relating to people as I walk around and always talk to, smile at people even in “normal times”. Sometimes it is received warmly, other times, less so.

24 years ago I spent 6 months travelling and studying Performing Arts in Ghana, West Africa. As we walked past people on the street, if you made eye contact , then people would greet you, exchange pleasantries – I was in heaven; my companion remarked at the time “you’ve come home; a place where people like to say hello on the street”

So now, respecting the social distancing, I still smile at people or say hello as I walk by on my walk, or shopping excursions. Just as before, some smile back or make a joke or friendly comment, some ignore the gesture and some now recoil as though my smile may harm them.

I am fully aware that we never know what people are going through, and what they are carrying with them as they walk around. I know that I am “more than” version of myself, perhaps seeking more friendliness or more connection than before. Others may be “more than” in their own ways, or stressed, preoccupied, worried for a loved one.

But I do know this: Physical distance does not have to mean emotional coldness; a smile reciprocated can be heart warming for both smilers.

Perhaps the term social distancing is confusing. I read one I much prefer on a beautiful post by Matt Rodda on Linkedin;  "Physical Distance, Social Connection"

Jessica Shaw

Director PACT Creative training, PACT Creative Training

Jess is the founder of PACT Creative Training (Play, Act, Create, Transform). She has 20 years' experience facilitating workshops using fun and playfulness in order to boost wellbeing and lower stress. Jess runs creative team building events for companies, Staff INSET Training in Schools and wellbeing-through-play workshops for children & young people in schools.