Social Isolation Is Worse for You than Smoking a Pack a Day
Ground breaking research highlights the role of social connection on long-term health. It’s fairly well accepted that smoking cigarettes is bad for health. However, sitting at computers for work, pleasure and social connection is widely accepted.
Getting up from your chair to interact with real people has a real impact. Structuring movement into your daily routine and quality time with those you love feels good. Leave your device at home or turn it off to mitigate the effects of constant distraction on your relationships.
Stress in Times of Change
The physiological impact of high stress on the body is significant. When life events like job loss, divorce or death compound and create a prolonged stress response, a cascade of health risks result. These include: insulin resistance, inflammation, memory and learning problems, poor metabolism, weight issues and lowered immunity.
Social isolation can happen during times of change, usually after the initial shock settles. Social networks shift while financial worries increase leaving fewer resources for recovery and connection.
The transition to motherhood is unlike any other. Ideally a new mother receives a lot of support. She needs sleep and enough nutrients to recover from birth and to breastfeed. Unfortunately this doesn’t always happen.
The demands of returning to work for one or both parents can make it difficult. The nuclear family lends itself to social isolation as the demands that previously were shared are put on two adults. A baby grows quickly. The needs of both mother and child also change quickly. It can be difficult to maintain relationships under these circumstances.
The transition to parenthood touches every aspect of life. It can take years to find a balance. New friendships emerge with other parents whose children have similar needs. Finding time for self-care or the social activities one used to enjoy can seem impossible at times.
Find stress management tools that can adjust with your lifestyle. Recently a friend and I have been working out with our kids. He uses them as weights which distracts them enough for me to do a few reps. This morning I practiced qi gong while my son played me guitar. Yesterday I swam lengths. My son put on some flippers and tried to keep up.
Motherhood is a wild endeavour. It’s an endless endurance feat that at times can be incredibly mundane and a lot of work. Other times it is wonderfully engaging and challenging. A lot depends on sleep and social support.
What is Enough?
New mothers are vulnerable for several reasons. It’s a time of life when social expectations change dramatically. At the same time societal judgements are stronger. The guilt of never being or doing enough is real. Hormones, emotions and the enormous responsibility of raising a child all play in. I remember walking with my newborn one day. We bumped into an old friend from my dance community. He remarked how I was doing the most important job around. This simple acknowledgement goes a long way.
A Kidless Culture
As parents our own early life trauma response can be triggered when we have our own children. This alone can be overwhelming. With significantly less time and resources it can be difficult to find the right support. Parents do the best that they can. Often parenthood brings on mortgages, career moves, marriage or separation. These are some of the biggest stressors in life. And they occur as we are learning a job that most of us were never taught to do.
One new mom told me she had never been around babies or children until she had her own as is common in the modern world. This is a far reach from how we evolved. That being said there is wisdom in our genetic memory or our bones so to speak.