How to stay positive in self-isolation
So I've been really trying to take pleasure in little things That's eating a favorite snack or Rom coms from the nineties and early two thousands. I don't know they seem to be a good escape. What I need it. Endorphins are pretty much the only thing keeping me sane right. Now I've been working out with online videos and also just speaking with friends. I haven't talked to in Munson. I have taken up cross stitching right now. I'm working on a flower wreath and I made biscuits and scones and in the next couple of days. I'm going to try and make a loaf wish me luck. What you just heard was our attempt all of us who work on this podcast to look on the bright side. That's not always easy especially right now as well as the anxiety that comes with worrying about your own health and the health of your loved ones bears the depression that comes from the news. There's the lack of activity that comes from being cooped up indoors and just generally. There's a feeling of loss of a lot of the things that we might do. When we feel down going to a movie or a game going shopping getting a massage eating out all of that but more important than any of those things is the absence of close human contact at the root of it. At what so many of us are grieving right now so once we get clair's news out of the way I know it's depressing but it's also crucial right now that you stay informed today we'll try to help you understand how we're wired which of those wires can disconnect in times of crisis like this and how we can try through small efforts to plug them back in. Okay hit it Claire. Yes sorry I'd rather not be the most depressing part of this episode but here we are well. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that federal wage subsidy to cover three quarters of salaries will go to any company large medium or small if it can show that it has seen revenues dropped sharply due to Kovic nineteen. There'll be an eight hundred and forty seven dollar cap per week and this will be backdated to March fifteenth in the coming days. Were expecting more Canadians to be coming home from abroad. Arrangements are being made for those in places that include Haiti Honduras and El Salvador Quebec has now surpassed three thousand cases. That's the most in Canada. The premier logos is the number of cases. Seems be stabilizing the government. There has announced one hundred and thirty three million dollars in emergency funds for seniors in the US. More than one hundred and forty thousand people are now infected with covert nineteen. That's the most recorded cases of any country in the world and it's followed by Italy and Spain hospitals in New York are so overrun with patients. Now that a hospital is being built in central park under white tents. Canada has now reported more than seventy four hundred cases of Cova nineteen with eighty six deaths. Jim Jordan Heath Rawlings. This is the big story. Dr Elizabeth done is a professor in the Department of Psychology. At the University of British Columbia she conducts experimental research determining. How time and money and technology and other things can shape human happens. Hello Dr Dunn. Hi thanks for having me no problem. I'm going to start by just asking you how happy you are right now. Do a scale of one to ten Well you know it's interesting because I I guess I would say I might be around in eight because a part of that is just that. I know that I'm a lot better often. So many other people right now. Of course I compare it to pre cove life you know. I guess my response might be a little bit different will. That's one reason I wanted to talk to. You is just how happy were we. I guess before this disease struck because I've been having the feeling that I should have been happier when I had the chance if that makes sense right so happiness is partly dependent on our expectations and I think you know. Most of US had become accustomed to fairly comfortable way of life and I think Cova may be re setting our expectations about what life can entail and so you know what I think is interesting. Is that although I certainly anticipate that happiness levels are gonNA take a bit of a nosedive during this period. I'm curious whether they might actually rebound to levels that are higher than what we've observed in previous years because now going back to like being able to go outside and have dinner with your friends and stuff. It's going seem pretty awesome and I think it may actually increase the enjoyment that people get from what were previously activities. We took for granted so what goes into the things that in a crisis like this can make us happy. What should we be focusing on? I guess if we're missing everything that we've lost. Well I think the number one thing is finding opportunities for safe social connection so psychologist like me View social connection as being a really fundamental human. Need you know not so different things. Like food and water and sleep. Human beings have a fundamental need to connect with others. And you know it's really apparent what you need When you no longer have access to it right so deprivation really highlights what you've needed all along and so I would say you know whether it's skyping with people or you know sitting out on your balcony and chatting or do making some music with some neighbors. Whatever opportunities you can find it's really important to carve out time in your day to to connect with others. How weird is it that I feel like I've actually talked to A lot of people that I know that I haven't talked to in a while. I'm usually one of those people who's really bad about reaching out and though I obviously haven't actually seen any of them I've sent messages and and you know we've replied back and forth and it feels like I'm making more of an effort which is something I don't usually do. Yeah I've been hearing this from a lot of people I've experienced this myself. So you know hardly ever call my dad but I like called my dad the other dating so happy to hear from me and it's just a good reminder that like you know we have all these opportunities for connection in daily life that we may not take advantage of because we're sort of meeting the needs so easily so you know it's kind of like if suddenly you were deprived of food you might find you know new creative sources of nutrition that you noticed. Were there all along? Sort of like you know you might be get good foraging for Berries. I would say it's kind of like we've gotten good at foraging for social berries. Finding those may be a doormat connections or just you know. I actually talked to the neighbors in the building next to mine for the first time ever last night because we were both out on Porches cheering for healthcare workers at the seven. Pm Shift Change You know I think this crisis is actually creating opportunities to both renew old connections and even spark nuance when somebody's feeling really down over this. Which is totally understandable And you kind of see social media posts telling them to be grateful for what they have or to you know find the silver lining or just appreciate the simple things. That kind of stuff can feel impossible right now. Is there a way to try to find that appreciation? Well I south. You know. It's easier to engage in those kinds of positive behaviors. When you're not feeling terrible right so if you're just having one of those moments I think all of us have had them at some point in the past weeks of just feeling like this sense of devastation. You know telling somebody when they're feeling like that. Too like savor the taste of chocolate or whatever is probably not that helpful but you know. I think a lot of us have had moments where we're like. Oh like feeling a little bit. Okay right You know again for example last night when we were all out cheering for the healthcare workers at seven I felt like this real sense of connection in warmth and and I really just try to hold onto that so when I got a little bit of it. I made the most of it so I like shared on facebook and looked at other people's facebook posts from elsewhere in the city of people posting the same cheering. So I kind of took that. Like little kernel of positivity and really tried to make the most of it but it wasn't just trying to pull it out of nowhere from the depths of devastation and and that's kind of the strategy that I would I would recommend for people. Would you talk about something Lake Everybody clapping for healthcare workers which is amazing I also wonder if that kind of sense of shared purpose Can help to bring us together. Because I have never felt before that everybody I talk to no matter who they are is thinking about the same thing the entire time. Yes this amazing sense of what? Psychologists call shared reality that we are all going through this experience together and so there's something that we all have in common in. Kinda reminds me of when my son was born. He was not a good sleeper. It was very challenging time of life for me but like other people that I knew who had infants were also kind of locked up in the house and deprived of social interaction but like drew doing their best to get through it And I actually have a very similar feeling now. Like we're we're all experiencing kind of a similar challenge that gives us some some common ground and I think it can provide an opportunity for us to to really reach out to those around us and connect with them and just find opportunities to be kind to each other to help one another even really simple ways. What kind of role? Either for good. Or ill will technology play in all this. Because I know you've done some research in that direction and I've never been more connected to my phone my laptop this recording studio in my basement like I feel like I'm I'm plugged in every moment I'm not asleep right now. Yeah I think the big takeaway message from our past research is that technology is not inherently good or bad for our happiness instead. It really depends how you use it. So if you're using technology to like scroll through scary stories about cove nineteen before bed is probably gonna be undermining your well being on the other hand you know. We're so fortunate that were going through this terrible crisis at a time when there is the opportunity to engage in his really interesting Forms of remote connection for example. I've been fighting video calls extremely helpful in my friends and I have gotten in the habit of having video calls with each other. You know every few nights or so. And I've actually been you know as someone who researches the potential downsides of technology. I've been really impressed with the upsides Lately about how you know in the absence of the typical way that we would satisfy this deep seated need for connection of actually getting together in person these video calls can serve as an imperfect but still really valuable source of of connection. We've done episodes of the show on happiness before and one of the things that came up back. Then I guess it would have been ten to twelve months ago was the loneliness epidemic and it feels like this crisis could really exacerbate that or maybe not depending on on how we react. What role do you think? The existing loneliness in our lives plays in something like this. Yeah Yeah I mean. I think that people who are Having to self isolate to literally be alone for a couple of weeks are going to experience pretty severe levels of loneliness always to sort of minimize that a you know reaching out to others through video calls and other other things but you know. I think it's going to be real risk that we need to be considering. So I would argue that alongside All of the recommendations in terms of physical distancing we really need some good public health recommendations about maximizing connection in this time. Because I think you know we weren't starting out necessarily with really great scorers in terms of our our sense of connection Ray. A lot of people report worryingly high levels of loneliness so they really are at risk. I you know I. I worry a lot about people who live alone. Who are now being told. You know. Basically just stay home. You know only connect with others in your household They're the only person in our household you know I worry about them and I think maybe we need to start thinking in a little bit more nuanced ways about how can we create opportunities for social connection for everybody because again the number one thing that I really want people to recognize is that social connection is a fundamental human need. We have to satisfy. It is not a luxury. Loneliness is a real risk factor in terms of a wide variety of health problems so loneliness is basically equivalent to smoking in terms of its negative effects on health. Amit so we need to take that part of the puzzle very seriously and I think you know if you were told. Hey you cannot eat anything but rice for the next two weeks would go are okay are you sure. Is there any way we can find like some frozen peas in the back of the freezer? Something right and like we need to be searching for those thinking outside the box recognizing this as a human need that we've got to try to find ways to at least partially satisfy you and making time for that so you know that's what I hope. People really keep in mind as we kind of dive deeper into this incredibly crazy time. If that's priority number one What are some other small things that people who are stuck working from home can do I see a million of them on the Internet? You know. Make sure you dress everyday like you're going to the office and wear pants or make sure you keep the same schedule or very what you eat for lunch. Do we know what kinds of things Could work or is there no rule? Well I would say you know in thinking about a rule that's gonNa work really effectively across the board. I would sum it up in two words as be kind so just find opportunities for kindness whether it's that you are You know ANA zoom call with CO worker. And they're having a rough time and you can telling you say hey you wanna stay on the call for five minutes afterward and just catch up and give them a chance to talk about what's going on in their life or whether it's you know when you're going to the Grocery store checking your older neighbor to see if you can pick up anything for them. You know these small actions we feel like we're doing them for others but actually they're very good for our own well-being and you know in my past research will be seen as that using what we've got to help other people can promote our own happiness even when we don't have much like even when people are struggling to meet their basic needs we still see that they benefit from helping others. Morelos question for you kind of ties back to what you mentioned at the beginning. Which is it's our loss of of our expectations and one of the things. I think I've struggled with another people have is seeing this news every day and and knowing it's going to get worse but not knowing what's coming next. How can you manage those expectations to keep them from taking over? I mean it's tough. I think you know I think maybe the best thing to do with that recognition that things are probably going to get worse is used this moment right now to put some systems in place for yourself to create those networks of support that you might need even more in a few weeks so you know a friend of mine Just created this like cove. Mommy's at group on facebook And connected about twenty different moms that she knows and so now. I'm in touch with all of these other MOMS. That are wrestling with the same challenges. I'm wrestling with And so just having those kinds of networks and structures in place can be really helpful in thinking. Okay you know my husband and I have already talked about while if it gets worse. You know what? What'S OUR PLAN RIGHT? So make making those plans now While things still feel at least here in hoover things feel kind of still manageable. That's an opportunity because when we're feeling reasonably good that's when we are actually more inclined to think creatively and be able to solve challenging problems. So we need to seize those positive moments trying to create the positive moments where you can and make the most of them and then use those times where you're feeling reasonably good to do some problem solving and think okay like how can we Set up the best system ourselves so that we're ready for things you know if they get even crazier than they are right now. Dr Done. That's great advice. Thank you for connecting with us today. My pleasure and now I will head back to the little boys that are waiting outside for me to continue entertaining them. Oh good I'm going to go upstairs and do the same thing to a little girl. Sounds great thank you for having me Dr Elizabeth done of the Department of Psychology at ub and that was the big story if you'd like more worth the big story DOT CA. We're on twitter at the Big Story. F. P. N. And we're in your favorite podcast feed and of course we'd love to hear from you can talk to us anytime at the big story podcast at RCA DOT ROGERS DOT com. If you send us a clip we might very well. Use It at the end of an episode like this. Ooh This would be just in case. You need a moment to smile. My daughter singing a song she composed. It's it's about cats. Thanks for listening. I'm Jordan Heath Rawlings. We'll talk tomorrow.