COVID times - Exploring Psycho-Social perspectives of Social Distancing

COVID times - Exploring Psycho-Social perspectives of Social Distancing

Idea of social distancing was created to propel understanding the process of acceptance and alienation between groups of individuals having regular contact with each other
COVID times - Exploring Psycho-Social perspectives of Social Distancing

Man is a social animal. He has the characteristic of living in the group. The groups may be based on race, caste, economic, class, culture etc. Within groups individual experiences more connection and belongingness while from other group members they feel alienation and distances. The idea of social distancing was created to propel understanding the process of acceptance and alienation between groups of individuals having regular contact with each other. In previous community medical researches the social distancing was used by building leper colonies for controlling the spreading of leprosy and different contagious diseases.

Presently neo-sociological approach on social distancing clarifies that it is the separation among various groups present in the general public. The groups may be based on race, ethnicity, class, culture, sexual orientation, occupation and so on. The intra-nearness/intra-intimacy is more in comparison to inter-nearness/inter-intimacy among the group members. This approach talks about physical and psychological distancing both. Whereas, in the present context of Covid-19, it is related to physical distancing not the psychological distancing among the groups. In the present Covid-19 scenario psychological support is much needed therefore adopting physical distancing with psychological closeness both in intra group and inter-group situations.

Famous Sociologist Robert Park explains that social distancing is used to measure the degrees of understanding and intimacy among groups which describes individual and social relations by and large. In the current pandemic circumstance, it should be considered as preventing physical contacts through physical isolation but maintaining personal and social relations.

A neo-sociologist Helfgott (2008) found social distancing as a proportion of proximity or closeness that an individual or a gathering feels towards another individual or a group in a social system or social network. It tends to be considered as the degree of trust one group has for the others. The present explanation should be understood in the manner that the social distancing as measure of nearness or intimacy that an individual or a group feels towards another individual or a group in a social network era without physical interactions. Of course, it is the level of trust as the level of trust one group has for other and to the extent of perceived likeliness of beliefs without physical contacts.

The most popular viewing about social distancing is related to emotions and feelings. This view assumes social distance as an emotional distance. e.g. the frequency and intensity of emotions a group member has for another group. Bogardus a famous psychologist developed a social distance scale that was based on the emotional aspect of social distance. At the time of the present drastic situation is to maintain physical distance not to maintain affective distance. Social distance should have a cognitive attribute of acceptance with no physical interactions.

Another aspect of social distancing is the normative social distance which is based on the widely accepted norms of the society. The insider of the group follows the norms of the particular group while the other may be named outsider/foreigner not follows the rules and norms of that particular group coz, they have their different group norms. Famous sociologists George Simmel and Emile Durkheim explain social distancing by explaining the difference between 'us' and 'them'. The present Covid-19 situation suggests that there should be only one norm directed by WHO and the Ministry of Health of different countries that everybody of different groups should be physically distant. This norm is developed to secure mankind, therefore it should be followed strictly or make arrangements to follow it forcefully.

Another aspect of social distancing is related to interactive social distancing. It is based on the frequency and intensity of interactions between members of two or more groups. This theory proposes that more the interactions more social intimacy and therefore less social distancing. This theory comes from sociological networking theory. The research studies in this regard found that social distance is extended by technological advances (internet, mobile, etc.) which has increased social distance exponentially. We should take care of the interactive social distancing these days. The frequency and intensity of intra-physical-meeting and inter- physical-meeting of group members' should be avoided and restricted. Social intimacy can be developed through the proper use of technology. Very recently an eminent applied psychologist Saswata Biswas wrote in his blog on 27th March 2020 that psychological distance can be reduced through making use of mobile.

It is possible to see these emotional, normative and interactive approach in overlapping manner. In the present context it can be understand that one should, be linked with groups emotionally, psychologically and technically interactive with groups and follow the ultimate norm decided by WHO and Ministry of Health of various countries i.e. to keep physical distance.

In The Washington Post it is written that Covid-19 is to adhere to the set of institutionalized guidelines conveyed by the WHO and Health Ministry of the nation for controlling the spread of Coronavirus infections. The main aim of social distancing is to diminish the chances of contact with irresistible people having infections so other individuals may not be tainted. It is only for limiting transmission of infection, disease, the horribleness of morbidity and lastly mortality.

Social distancing interventions, for example, individuals lockdown, (Janta Lock-down), Lockdown, Curfew is to decrease social and network versatility to diminish physical contacts inserted in the pandemic Corona infection readiness plans of the various countries coordinated through WHO recommendations. One ought to comprehend the point of these interventions is to reduce the overall illness attack rates and the consequential excess mortality attributed to the pandemic. It is also for delaying for reducing peak attack rates, reduction in pressure on health services and allowing time to produce and distribute antiviral drugs and suitable vaccines.

Overcoming Problems of Social Distancing regarding Covid-19

1        Support Yourself

Take breaks from nonstop exercises like watching, perusing or tuning in to new stories including interacting with social media. Finding out about the uncommon news more than once can be dangerous for the psychological wellness and mental health of the individual.

2        Take care of Body

Take profound inhales, Stretch, Meditate, Take well balanced nutritive meals, Go for regular exercising for physical fitness, Get plenty of sleep and To keep away from liquor and drugs.

3        Take care of Mental Health

Empower yourself to manage uneasiness, dread, disappointment, outrage, fractiousness, anxiety, fear, anger, frustration, irritability, and stress. There are mental approaches to beat these circumstances by taking the help of readings/counseling from the psychologists/experts.

3        Time to Relax

One should offer thyself uninterrupted alone time for unwinding or relaxation, attempt to include in other movements in which you appreciate or get enjoyment, offer time to family, see marriage photographs, video recordings, play indoor games with family members, enjoy your hobbies.

4        Connect with near/dears

Give a call to old companions, and converse with individuals you trust show your concern, Share old melodies, talk about positive things happen at your school/ college time.

5        Come Forward

To help in managing Covid-19. Motivate individuals by spreading mindfulness and awareness about Preventing Covid-19, Make aware of fraud messages and videos (as you found fake message/video check its authenticity and send the link about its fakeness). Support local administration through various means, providing food and medicines to the needy persons but with the local administration coordination.

In a nutshell, it can be said through social distancing regarding Covid-19 is only physical distancing but with psychological and social support. This type of social distancing is a foreword step to overcome Covid-19 problem.

The Author, Dr Ajay Kumar Chaudhary is an Associate Professor with the Department of Psychology, Government Meera Girls' College, Udaipur. Opinions expressed are his own.

Dr Ajay Kumar Chaudhary

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