Why Howling at 8 pm is an Effective Tool for Coping with Isolation

As we all try to follow the important health guidelines from leaders for social distancing, what is the long-term impact of engaging in this behavior on our mental health? That is a question that is hard to answer. What we do know is the incredible stress associated with being isolated and what prolonged stress can do to our psychological well-being.

Research has shown that perceived isolation and loneliness are associated with depression, cognitive decline, poor sleep quality, a weaker immune system, and possible heart problems.

What can we do to cope with the stress on our mental health?

One night last week I heard what sounded like wolves outside my house. I looked out the window and saw my neighbors parading down the middle of the street and howling. I realized it was 8 pm and this was an act of solidarity I’ve been hearing about. Across the country, people have been howling to demonstrate support for first responders, essential workers, and other health care workers.

According to an article in US News and World Report:

The nightly howl is a primal affirmation that provides a moment’s bright spot each evening by declaring, collectively: We shall prevail, said Dr. Scott Cypers, director of Stress and  Anxiety programs at the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. It’s a way to take back some of the control that the pandemic-forced social isolation has forced everyone to give up, Cypers said.

Standing on our porch and joining the communal howl made us feel connected and happy while at the same time we recognized how much we are really missing people. The howl helped us feel that we are in this all together.

We didn’t want to go back inside so after our howling subsided, in the quiet night we visited across porches and streets with our neighbors for another 15 minutes, maintaining a social distancing of at least 6 feet apart.

Nipping anxiety symptoms in the bud is going to be critically important to our mental health. We arranged another distant gathering for the next night and followed up on social media.

Learning how to cope with the current emotional pain of social isolation is going to be very important in thwarting both anxiety and depression. Tonight at 8 pm, go outside, listen, and join the howl.

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