Keeping The Connection

Audrey Fraizer 

Connection is universal. At least for most of us the desire is there to form human contact. 

Numerous studies indicate as much. Simply use search times such as the “importance of human connection” or “lack of social contact” and the message is loud and clear: Humans need face-to-face contact to thrive. The lack of human connection puts our mental and physical health at high risk. 

Now enters the coronavirus. For the majority, contact is severely restricted from what we’ve taken for granted. Measures to flatten the curve—sheltering in place, quarantine, six-foot social distancing—iron the heck out of our ability to connect with friends, co-workers, and the neighbors we wave to in passing. 

Forced separation for the good of our physical health, however, does not eliminate ways to express compassion. We can break through the barriers and let others know how much we really care.  

Or, in the words of Mike Taigman, “We can connect in distanced worlds,” and the following are a few of his suggestions. Taigman is the Improvement Guide for FirstWatch. True to his FirstWatch bio, “During his more than four decades in EMS, Mike has focused the majority of his career on helping make things better.”

1. Seen + Safe + Soothed = Secure Connection 

People need to be seen. Eye contact creates a connection and something we all can do despite the masks covering mouths and noses. To reinforce the practice, make it a habit to identify eye color. 

2. Loneliness + Isolation = Hopelessness 

People need to know others care; they are not alone. On the flipside is the boost we get from our attempts at helping others through a tough time. A phone call to say “hi” for no other reason but to check in and listen can put a wedge in the desolation. Stuck over a conversational opening? Ask a question that distracts from the current situation, such as “What is your most treasured memory?” or “Given your favorite book or movie, which character would you most like to be?”

3. Breathe Like a Soldier 

The tactical breathing technique used by the military reduces stress, redirects focus from the situation, and provides a calming effect.  

  • Breathe in counting 1, 2, 3, 4 
  • Stop and hold your breath counting 1, 2, 3, 4 
  • Exhale counting 1, 2, 3, 4 
  • Repeat the breathing 
  • Breath in counting 1, 2, 3, 4 
  • Pause and hold your breath counting 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Exhale counting 1, 2, 3, 4 

4. See Something. Say Something.

Someone saying they’re fine, doesn’t mean they’re fine. Listen to the person. Look at the expression in their eyes. If something seems amiss, say something. Don’t make assumptions.

Simply, make yourself available to them and without judgment. 

5. Lower Your Emotional Shield 

Taigman learned early during his EMS career to distance himself from his emotions. He wore it like a rubber glove to protect him in the moment. His practiced response, remaining cool and collected, served the patient. It’s what the patient expected. Later in his career, Taigman learned to take off his emotional shield when he was not at work. He found that connecting to other people took connecting to his own emotions. 

Mike Taigman’s new book “Supercharge Your Stress Management in The Time of COVID-19,” is anticipated for release by June 1, 2020. Check www.combatcovidstress.com to learn more. You can contact Mike about the book and his recommendations to keep you connected at mtaigman@firstwatch.net. 

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