Recently, research from the University of São Paulo has shown that there has been an increase in ‘social pain’ among people around the globe due to the events occuring since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The change in lifestyles, social isolation, economic uncertainity, and political changes have all contributed to this issue. As a result, people are at a much higher risk of developing mental health diseases as well.
In medical literature, the term social pain is associated with feelings of sadness and loneliness following an event which involves loss. For instance, deaths, abandonment, long distances in people, rejection, are some of the factors which may lead to such feelings.
While the issue was also present prior to the coronavirus health crisis, it has worsened after its beginning. People are now experiencing different forms of losses regularly. The loss of contact in particular has played a major role in this change. Lack of socializing and having no one to talk can make it more difficult to cope up with other problems.
This is one of the reasons why psychologists have recommended people to stay in contact and connected since the past year. However, virtual meetings and videocalls are not the same as in person conversations for many people. Additionally, many have missed important events such as family gatherings during the holidays, which has further added to the problem.
This is why contact is the most important out of all other factors contributing to social pain as the lack of it worsens other problems as well.
It is also one of the reasons why people are experiencing pandemic fatigue and ignoring fundamental guidelines for prevention of the coronavirus infection. Going out, partying, and meeting others is one of the many ways the majority has adopted to cope with stress and pain.
The problem with this solution is that it is temporary and can do more harm than good. Not taking preventive measures and meeting people consistently will only contribute to infection spread and prolong the pandemic even more.
Furthermore, it can also increase the risk of contracting the virus and transmitting it to family or friends belonging to at-risk groups. If this continues, there will likely be another lockdown in order to control the rising cases, which will limit people to their homes strictly once again.
Therefore, it is better to look for better and safer options rather than arranging in physical meetings. For example, the first step towards managing social pain is accepting it is real and then looking towards possible solutions.
Then, try to focus on positive outcomes of the feelings such as the realization of how important family and friends are. Try to stay connected with friends and family using ways other than just calling and videocalling such as watching movies together, playing online games, studying together or even cooking together.
When nothing else makes a difference, do not be hesistant to get help from a professional. Consulers and therapists can offer a wide range of therapies which can help in managing social pain and feeling better again.