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Welcome to the Atheists in Recovery podcast, where we talk about finding hope in recovery. And now your host, Dr. Adina Silvestri
Adina Silvestri 0:11
Hola Atheists in Recovery and welcome to Episode 83 of the Atheists in Recovery podcast where it's my job to address the spiritual and scientific belief systems of people in long term recovery in order to deconstruct their limiting thought patterns, in an effort to bring about change and introduce new behaviors and routines you can use. And so today is a solo episode. Today, we are going to hit on a very specific topic, men in isolation during covid 19. And this episode is a really, it's a very important one. And I think that even before the pandemic, there was a sort of pandemic of isolation. And I'll tell you what I mean in a minute, but, but this is something that I hear very often in my office, it's even something that I address in my group. And so let's start with with the message. It's a quote from a compilation of clients, and we'll call him jack. So jack says, I received a DM from an old college friend the other day, who said, he missed me and he wanted to catch up, I was so touched that I started to cry. I felt strange saying, I'm lonely because I have a loving family. I repeat to myself, I have a wife and kids and maybe with my week consisting of zoom meetings, by myself sitting in front of a computer, the amount of people I come in contact with, is pretty slim. So Jack's story is not uncommon. Even before the pandemic middle aged men had a hard time connecting. During the pandemic, the obstacles have only grown men aren't calling up their friends from college all of a sudden just to talk. There's a stigma surrounding feeling lonely. And it says, if you are this sixth grader, with no friends, the sixth grade weirdo with no friends, but the price we pay for not being honest with ourselves, and taking small actions, it's just too great. Let's talk about the gender wars here. It seems men, men's main motive connection is centered around activities, hobbies or events. The affection isn't so straightforward. And it's usually centered around a pursuit, maybe an interest, maybe a hobby according to jack. If there was a project or activity like building a swing set or running a marathon, the connection is forged around that event. But once that event is over the likelihood of going to your guy's house just to hang out. It's just unlikely. Women, on the other hand, don't seem to have as much of a struggle to them and share the feeling. similar feeling I like you, you like me, they just kind of lean in. So let's talk about this concept of loneliness as being sort of a kind of a pandemic. And then we'll talk about what you can do to lessen the feeling of loneliness. So, the US Surgeon General under President Obama, Dr. Vivek Murthy didn't just address health concerns while he was in office related to the opioid crisis, diabetes and health and heart disease. While on a listening tour, he discovered something even more troubling, a silent pandemic, the pandemic of loneliness, he said, there are a number of Americans suffering from a lack of human connection. Loneliness he learned was impacting them, not only mentally but physically. He says, and this is from NPR, I found that people who struggle with loneliness, that there's an associated risk of heart disease, dementia, depression and anxiety, sleep disturbances and even premature death. He goes on to tell NPR that he thinks part of the reason people don't like to talk about being lonely is that when you say you're lonely, and somehow feels like you're unlikable, or unlovable, there's some sort of social deficit within you. And he goes on to say, and I quote, the reality is that loneliness is a natural sign that our body gives us, similar to hunger, thirst. That's just how important human connection is. 1000s of years ago, our ancestors knew this. They knew that there were safety in numbers. And when we were separated from each other, places our survival at risks, it's puts us in a psychological stress state
when it's short When it's acute it can lead us to seek out a connection. But when it's prolonged, then it can become a chronic state of stress, which leads to inflammation in our body damages tissues and blood vessels and ultimately damages our physical as well as our emotional health. So what do we do? How do we connect and this age of COVID? Quite a jack. There's a recent example of bonding experience of well being one of his college mates. His college mate and jack would get up at dawn every day for a couple of months. And they were training for an Iron Man their relationship grew stronger their conversation deeper, their level of trust intensified through daily contact and training runs, diet regimens and race day preparations. But once the race was over, there was no more motivating point for focus. Their relationship atrophied. The Coronavirus has everyone spending less time together for women who infused life into the dullest of zoom videos and phone chats. A pandemic is more of an inconvenience but not a deal breaker, they will keep up those relationships. For men, who generally require in person contact centered around physical activities and projects. A pandemic has been more destructive, disruptive and threatening to the male bond. More than any other time in our lives. The scheduled occasions for repeated male engagement are no longer on the calendar. The cadence of traditional male contact has been broken by the pandemic social lockdowns. So what can we do guys? Let's talk about three ways that you can stay connected during this period of isolation and continue lockdowns number one, pick up the phone, take a cue from the women's playbook. And listen to Episode 81. Call at least three guy friends a week. And if they're not home, leave a message. Yes, an actual message. Ask them questions that foster connection ask them about their inner life, not just their outer life. Number two, arrange a standing event. So maybe you tell the guys that you're doing this, this thing every morning, maybe it's a walk. And every morning around seven you're gonna go for a walk. Consider it your fake commute. and invite your friends to join you. So not only are you getting some time at nature, but you're also setting up another opportunity for connection actually have this cousin in San Diego who does this with a bunch of his guy friends every morning, I think it's more like 6am. But they walk up and down these hills and San Diego and he just sort of smile because there's like either like the neighborhood watch in the morning. It's pretty funny. But anyway, that's how he connects with his with his men with his friends. Number three. Number three is sleep. And yes, I realize this isn't actually connecting with anyone else. But it's a huge step you can take to building your resistance aka widening your window. And if you need more information on that just just go ahead and listen to Episode 82 with Dr. Elizabeth Stanley, and I'll put the link to that in the show notes. So that if you're sleeping more like you're on eight hours, then don't tell me that you're getting eight hours because I know you when you're sleeping more, it's going to build up that resistance so that when you are stressed you aren't immediately looking for that drink. You know immediately looking for that drug, you're not immediately going to those familiar coping strategies, aka addictions. You can better care for yourself and the people that you love. Alright guys, I hope you enjoyed this solo episode of How to combat loneliness in the age of COVID-19. Although these may seem like poor substitutes for the real thing, do you must to keep the connections alive according to Dr. Vivek Murthy. Even the act of trying to increase your friendships can benefit your health. All right, one more announcement if you are in Virginia, and you are interested in learning more about my online men's group, where we talk a lot about isolation and loneliness. contact me at atheistsinrecovery.com and hit the yellow schedule now button and we can connect that way. Okay, guys, thanks for listening. Bye.
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Welcome to today’s show!
In today’s episode, I discuss a pandemic of loneliness and outline 3 ways to combat loneliness during Covid19.
On Measuring Loneliness
I reference a quote from Jack:
I received a DM from an old college friend the other day who said he missed me and wanted to catch up. I was so touched that I started to cry. I feel strange saying I’m lonely because I have a loving family. I repeat to myself, I have a wife and kids. But maybe I am lonely. With my week consisting of sitting in front of a computer on Zoom meetings by myself, the amount of people I come into contact with is slim.
WHAT WE’LL LEARN
For more info, head over to atheistsinrecovery.com and subscribe to our email list. And thank you for listening!