COVID Report: Human Connection



Human connection just looks different during COVID, but it still exists.

As I hit shuffle on my Spotify playlist, chuck my phone in the center console, and put my car in reverse, the vibrations of Kermit the Frog’s banjo filled my station wagon. Contrary to my typical car tunes of Radiohead and Coldplay, I let it play. As I took a turn out of my street, the words “why are there so many songs about rainbows and what’s on the other side” blared out of my mumbling speakers. 

I pondered the meaning of those lyrics and in sequence, I thought of my new lifestyle. What is on the other side of this global obstacle? What’s on the other side of the death, the fear, the isolation, and the not knowing that surrounds our world? 

I thought of what our life is going to be on the other side of COVID; I thought of a world where I would see people’s smiles as they walked their dogs, and not face masks. As I listened to the song, my brain kept reverting back to the words of “someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection.” Perhaps there is a deeper meaning beyond the rainbows that Kermit speaks of, and maybe we are the rainbows, waiting ever so patiently for what we once took for granted: basic human connection.

A lack of social interaction can be detrimental to one’s mental health, especially to those who thrive off the energy of others. According to a psychology and neuroscience professor at Brigham Young University, social disconnection heightens health risks as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or having a substance abuse disorder. Furthermore, isolation can lead to poor sleep, lower immunity, depressive symptoms, and weak cardiovascular health, as found in a report from the American Psychological Association.

So how do we still find that human connection, that catalyst of joy, even though we are homebound for months on end?

I have found in my time at home, socially distanced from many people I love, that connectivity is not even close to lost, it just looks and feels a whole lot different.  

In the time of COVID, now more than ever humans need to feel close to each other. There are many ways to do this with a little creativity.

Athletic teams can still workout together, although it is done in separate basements, through a laptop, and not on the field. Many athletic teams are hosting workouts as an opportunity to both get in exercise but to also feel connected. In the past few months I have participated in virtual CrossFit, skills training, and webinars for lacrosse.

Birthdays can still be loudly celebrated with singing, just now in parade style in the comfort of your own car. A few weeks ago, I yelled and waved from my car as I drove past my friend’s house. It was definitely a different type of sweet 16.

Grandparents still have the most joyful smiles, although they may be seen through a car window or on a Sunday night Zoom call, and not around the dinner table. My grandparents challenged my family to run, walk, or bike a total of nearly 300 miles in the following weeks, since we live 300 miles apart. Last week, in total we exercised more than 300 miles. Although it wasn’t four and a half hours in the car, knowing that we traveled the distance to each other brought a sense of togetherness that I missed dearly.

Laughing, celebrating, running, learning, and living looks a little different from six feet apart or maybe even farther, but that sense of togetherness allows for normality to be recollected that was prior to COVID. 

Throughout this difficult time it is important to remember that someday although it is not certain of when, we will be together again. We are connected in our homes with those outside, even if it doesn’t feel as though we are. Reach out to those you love, find a new perspective of this uncertain world, and someday, as a green frog once said, we will find the rainbow connection.