After nearly a year of navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have been left feeling emotionally fatigued. This social weariness can be the result of spending too much time with the people we live with and the absence of physical time with relatives and friends outside of our home. The result is that we can feel disconnected emotionally, according to Dr. Kristyn Gregory, medical director of behavioral health for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “When you’re feeling like … you’ve given everything you have within you over the last 10 months, sometimes it’s difficult to sit and be present,” said Gregory, a board-certified adult, child and adolescent psychiatrist, and a mother of two. On the latest episode of A Healthier Michigan Podcast, hosted by Chuck Gaidica, he and Gregory discuss the importance of maintaining emotional relationships and what we can do to strengthen them.
Striking a balance between having too much connection in some relationships and not enough in others can be difficult. With emotional fatigue, people can find it difficult to be present for others.
Focus on being real, not right
The first step to reconnecting is speaking your truth in a non-threatening, non-judgmental manner. Gregory advises focusing on being real, not right. “Developing that intimacy and that availability is about being OK to speak your feelings to somebody else. It’s a very powerful thing to tell somebody your emotional state,” Gregory said. She recommends setting aside time to be present with a person — even virtually. This can demonstrate, through body language, that you are listening. You can also let people know you are thinking of them with little communications throughout the day — sending a text message, funny video or meme — or a bigger gesture like having a meal delivered. “Just take five or 10 minutes to be available to connect with somebody, to continue to build that focus on being real, not right,” Gregory said. “If you need to be heard, maybe you need to say, ‘I need you to hear me. I know you’re extremely busy and you have a lot of stuff going on. I was hoping we could not be distracted for the five minutes and really connect so you can hear what I’m going to say because it’s important.’” Listen to the full episode here.