Having a strong community is one of the most important factors in our mental and emotional health. Loneliness or social isolation increases our risk of depression and anxiety, and it can even make us more vulnerable to physical ailments, increasing our risk of heart disease by 29%, and stroke by 32%.
Usually, maintaining strong community bonds is as easy as taking a walk to the neighborhood bar, calling up a friend for brunch, or attending your weekly church service or bookclub. With public health officials around the world recommending most of us avoid large gatherings or even leaving our homes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, those normal social outlets are now out of reach. There is no playbook for a pandemic, and it’s normal to feel anxious, scared, or lonely in response to the uncertainty of the current moment.