Social Connection and Belonging. Your Student Life (grad/prof) for the week of 1/31/21
January 31, 2021
We’ve had nearly a full year of physical distancing in this age of COVID-19. We’ve all had a range of reactions to these precautions, and it is understandable that we are missing each other.
Connection, belonging and togetherness are important ingredients for mental health. When we feel lonely or isolated, it sends an internal message to our brain that we are not OK. Typically, the feeling of loneliness should act as a guidepost, prompting us to reach out and connect with others. Authentic connection and belonging can be an antidote. However, opportunities to connect are harder to come by right now.
We know there has been an impact on students across the country. A survey conducted by Active Minds reports that 80% of college students say loneliness or isolation during COVID-19 has negatively affected their mental health.
COVID-19 has dramatically reduced socializing, and you may not be particularly close to others in your program. Without the opportunity to expand your social network, you may feel increasingly isolated and lonely.
It can be difficult to reach out to others, especially those you barely know. It may feel strange, awkward or weird. However, there are many ways to get started. It may be a simple as sending a message to someone in your program, participating in an OUAB grad/prof program, joining a relevant student organization or nurturing your current connections by being present and getting to know your colleagues, friends or family in deeper ways.
Each person’s reason for feeling lonely will be personal. Therefore, each solution will look a little different. What is required in each case is a little courage to help soothe the natural anxiety that comes with taking a chance. Stay persistent. Do not get discouraged. Be uncomfortable, but reach out anyway! There is an entire Buckeye Nation out there.
If you need more help, we have your back at Ohio State. Check out the resources and tips at this link: https://ccs.osu.edu/.
Associate Director, Outreach
Counseling and Consultation Service
Office of Student Life