One of the core attributes of my methods here at The Joywell is connection. It’s the “C” in ACES! Putting together the framework for The Joywell method, ACES ,was inspired by my own experiences as well as those of my clients over the years. For example, my client, Katie (named changed for anonymity) came to me for help with anxiety. After a few sessions, we noted which situations were her biggest triggers. I think if we’re all honest with ourselves, the situations that made Katie anxious would trigger us all, especially in the times of COVID and isolation.
Overstimulated: Katie is on a group text message chain that includes eleven women. ELEVEN. Not being able to keep up with and feel like she was contributing to this conversation in a meaningful way was not only causing Katie anxiety, but it was also causing her to avoid engaging with any of the women on the text, even when she did feel she had something to contribute. Now, according to leading social anthropologist Robin Dunbar and a newer study conducted at MIT (linked here) our inner circle, meaning our BFFs, is really limited to five or fewer people. FIVE! That’s six fewer than eleven – ha! No wonder Katie was feeling overstimulated!
Under-connected: Katie was clearly feeling overwhelmed by this group text. She was also avoiding connecting with friends because of this group text. It just all seemed like too much for her. So, while Katie and her friends had near-constant open access to each other via this text chain, Katie did not feel like she was engaging with them in a meaningful way. Katie did not feel like she was taking part in meaningful connections with these friends despite the constant communication. Katie was overstimulated by the text chain while also lacking the sense of connection with the friends on the text chain. Overstimulated and under-connected.
Granted, connection has been hard in the days of COVID. That is not up for debate. However, this is again where the idea of quality over quantity comes into play. In our work together, Katie and I were able to figure out ways that are authentic to her in connecting with these friends who are on this text chain. How Katie and I trouble-shot this issue is individual to her and may not work for everyone, but the general idea was to minimize and contain the pressure to respond while opening the door for more connection via a zoom game night, quick one-on-one text chat, or scheduling a walk with one or two of these friends.
For my client, and for so many other mamas out there, maximizing connection while minimizing overstimulation is key to maintaining deeply connected and engaged friendships, even during times as crazy as these.
Does socializing overwhelm you? How do you stay connected to those who matter to you most?