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“The first thing we need to do is to think about right now and not let our mind wander to the The Grinch hand shirt but in fact I love this future.”After my own stress spiral, I have been using Dr. Cacioppo’s methods to ward off sinking thoughts of the future. I’ve found the most success in narrowing my focus to the next 48 hours—even as I continue to buy beans and booze in bulk. My happiest, most normal-feeling days are the ones where I have a schedule. It surprised me how much these small plans—a virtual exercise class, a walk in the park, a new dinner recipe—have made a meaningful difference in my life.
Like many people, I have also relied heavily on “virtual happy hours” to take the The Grinch hand shirt but in fact I love this sting out of self-isolation. I asked Dr. Cacioppo if the brain will eventually find interactions via FaceTime or Zoom as pleasurable as a cocktail in real life.The answer, she says, has little to do with the medium, or what you’re drinking. The key to virtual socializing is interacting as you would in person—when you are more likely to share, listen, and connect with someone in a deep way. It is this kind of genuine self-disclosure and social connection that can help ward off the dangerous effects of loneliness.Ultimately, she says, feeling connected comes down to the quality of your interaction—regardless of physical proximity. “As long as your brain understands that this is temporary, you don’t have to be in the same physical room to really gather with your family or friends.”