Isolation and emotional contagions
Britain is slowly coming out of lockdown, gradually easing away the measures that have kept us all inside for three or so months and allowing us to be reunited with those who we haven’t seen since god knows when. We as humans are naturally social creatures, we form relationships and alliances with those who are around us. Coming out of this lockdown will be a great relief for all of us, especially those who have been separated from those that they love the most.
Isolation is something many people have come to grips with over the lockdown. However, a study shows that isolationism was already prevalent in our modern-day society. The study, conducted in August of 2018, shows that twenty-three per cent, over a fifth of adults in the UK, often or always experience a sense of loneliness. This number is similar to twenty-two per cent of Americans who experience the same or similar feelings. The study also suggests that this is worsened by the loss of a family member, discovering mental health problems and other similar factors. Studies suggest that while people may be surrounded by others, the quality of their relationships is more significant than the quantity of them. Healthy relationships can be very beneficial, not only in combating loneliness but also mental health.
When further looking into the impact of meaningful relationships, research concludes that these are seen as a necessity in supporting ones own emotional and mental health. The study shows that personal relationships can help us to thrive in two ways. Firstly, the bond or the person with which has been bonded with can act as a catalyst for positive action to be taken, almost acting as a sort of encouragement for their friend or someone close to them. This basically means that people with these types of relationships will be more likely to take more chances and make more of the opportunities that life gives them. The second way that a meaningful relationship can benefit a person’s mental and emotional health is through the way they can support them and help buffer against negative life experiences as well as less than positive internal emotions. The people around us can have a great effect on the way we feel as well as our mental and emotional health.
Some researchers call human emotions ‘contagious’. If one person is feeling a certain way, those around them are likely to reciprocate the sentiment. Humanity has spent centuries researching the often subconscious and automatic mimicry of others emotions. Often, we feel the same as the others around us without even realising that we sharing an emotional experience. Although sometimes the impact of emotional contagion (EC) can be negative, there can also be several positive reactions to EC. On sports teams, if people on the team are happy, then it is shown that the mood of individual players improves as well the way they play. It has also been discovered that happiness can spread through social groups, much like an actual virus, meaning that if you are happy, you may indirectly cause the happiness of someone you’ve never even met.
Although this experience has given us as a population a moment to think about the planet around us and the way we treat it, it will soon be over. The whole world will soon be reunited with the ones they care about as this physical virus begins to fade from view and we are once allowed to experience the wonders of the emotional contagion.