A Three Part Series
Part One: Why not feel better?
First, attachment is a basic human need, i.e., we need emotional connection and relational proximity in order to survive. Providing and seeking physical and emotional safety to and from another is at the heart of every attachment relationship; therefore, anything that puts these bonds at risk diminishes our visceral sense of safety. Attachment studies on children show that having a “secure base”, someone to run back to for safety, augments children’s ability to tolerate distress, regulate emotions, and problem solve. It’s the relational safety that affords them the confidence to venture out into the world because they know they are not alone.
By the way, this is not something we grow out of. In fact, the Harvard Study on Happiness found a strong connection between happiness and close relationships with a spouse, family, and friends.
But, what happens when venturing out into the world is fraught and our closest relations are are physically off limits? This is the one-two punch that Covid 19 packed: while the virus actively endangers all of our health and well being, it simultaneously limits our ability to physically connect to sources of resilience and strength—our loved ones. It seems that that’s when we do what humans do best: we adapt.
Within my own community, neighbors filled the shelves of our local food banks (find your local food bank), sewed masks for essential workers, and donated blood. The neighborhood app, Nextdoor, surged with activity, with people posting not only well wishes, but offers to cook and grocery shop for people who they’d never even met. We know that doing something good for somebody else lights up the brain’s pleasure centers; generates feelings of satisfaction and gratitude; and improves both physical and mental health. So, why not feel better?
Attachment & Connection in Quarantine
Part Two: What’s your attachment style? How has the pandemic affected attachment relationships?
Part Three: Exercises to preserve (or develop) the felt sense of relational safety