#1 of 10 constructive, nurturing ideas: Images.

As the pandemic began taking over the news and then our news feeds on social media, and then our lives and behaviors, and maybe economic futures and social relations, the part of me that wants to be part of constructive solutions, rather than fear and doomsday, stepped in. I won’t lecture at you “do this.”  I will say what I am doing, in the hopes that it could inspire you.

Cultivate images of friends and family.

As we start to “socially distance” ourselves, the feeling of being very, very alone in the world is rising. I am not unique in this. We have got two kinds of people: those who have a family with whom they should hunker down, and those who do not and are isolated. I am in the second group.

One coping strategy for we isolated folks who won’t share a room with another human being for weeks, perhaps months:

I went through my digital pictures and made a collection to print and plaster my house walls with. I made four. Two are pictured above. I fuzzed out the faces before getting permission from everyone to use their picture online. Sorry if it looks a little creepy. In person, it’s colourful and fun.

It feels wonderful to see the faces of friends and family and know that I am not alone, even if I cannot see anyone right now except through a screen. Connected times will come again. “This too shall pass.” And won’t we know to appreciate each other when that happens!

For a scientific article published in the Royal Society about how recognising familiar faces lowers stress, fear, look at this one by da Costa et al from 2004. Even more fun: it is about SHEEP.

“We report that when sheep experience social isolation, the sight of familiar sheep face pictures compared with those of goats or inverted triangles significantly reduces behavioural (activity and protest vocalizations [Baaah, baaah!]), autonomic (heart rate) and endocrine (cortisol and adrenaline) indices of stress. … Results provide evidence that face pictures may be useful for relieving stress caused by unavoid- able social isolation in sheep, and possibly other animal species, including humans.”