Courage to Caregivers Kristi Horner
We’re on to a new theme this month – relationships – and our first topic is connections. Unfortunately, social distancing is getting all of the publicity these days. But while physical distancing remains important during this pandemic, maintaining our social connections is also important, especially for caregivers.
Connecting with others is a basic human need that is hardwired within us from birth. As caregivers, we gain a lot from our social connections, including emotional support, respite care, and a sounding board for our concerns, just to name a few of the benefits. As this article notes, connecting is one of Mental Health America’s 10 tools that can help you feel stronger and more hopeful. Research shows that feeling socially connected can increase happiness, improve health, and lead to a longer life.
Gideon Rosenblatt notes that connections are different from relationships. Connections, or points of contact, can take many forms. They typically involve some kind of action and are usually time-constrained. Relationships are about the experience of connecting with someone over an extended period of time. “One way to think of connections is as a kind of handshake between two parties,” he says.
Sometimes, a connection can take the form of a heart-to-heart, spill-it-all talk. Other times, just a laugh-out-loud e-mail can do wonders. Spending time connecting with others in pleasurable activities can be a welcome release from our daily worries.
And we can all learn something from our connections. During the past four years, as we’ve launched Courage to Caregivers, I’ve met some extraordinary people along the way, and every one of them has helped me better understand the unique challenges of caregivers. I’ve also learned how to listen better and how to be a better human.
That’s why it’s so important that we continue to connect while we also continue our physical distancing. I like to think of this time as an opportunity to strengthen our social solidarity. We need all of the solidarity we can get right now, and that goes not only for caregivers but also for those we love who are living with mental illness.
In the spirit of solidarity, if you’re looking for a new way to come together and expand your connections, consider joining one of our programs at Courage to Caregivers in our new virtual format. We’d love to support you and have you join our community.
Founder and Executive Director
Courage to Caregivers