• Audriannah Levine-Ward

Accessing Pleasure and Connection During Times that Don't Feel So Pleasurable

During the pandemic, we as a society and country have been asked to change almost

everything about the way we do things. This has also inherently changed our relationship to

feeling and engaging in pleasure. Simple things like seeing family, connecting with friends,

going to a favorite coffee shop or having a date night have been changed drastically, if not gone

away altogether. In being changed drastically, an activity that was once pleasurable is now

fraught with anxiety, apprehension or feels cumbersome to do. Across the country, many people

have stopped attempting new pleasurable activities not because they don’t want pleasure but

because they are not sure about how to access it. It is also important to note that due to the

stress, anxiety or overwhelm created by the pandemic and unrest created by social injustice,

many folks might be attempting to create new coping skills routines for the first time. For some,

this means attempting to cope with first experiences of anxiety, depression and lack of

motivation. Whereas for others, there might be an increase in feelings or symptoms that have

already existed internally.

One of the reasons that pleasure has felt so hard to come by throughout the pandemic is

because so much of pleasure comes from human connection. Due to its importance, human

connection and its impact on individual psychology has and continues to be studied. One of the

foremost researchers on this topic is Johan Hari. He describes disconnection as, "...the sense

that you’re not sharing anything that matters with anyone else. If you have lots of people around

you...but you don’t share anything that matters with them, then you’ll still be lonely.” As

mentioned above, there is a great degree of importance placed on sharing with others. Human

connection provides opportunity for touch, conversation, comfort, community and emotional

reflection. Without having usual forms of contact with others, many people might be finding

themselves feeling sad, isolated, lonely or more anxious than prior to the pandemic. This is one

of the reasons that people have flocked to the internet to experience connection without the fear

of getting others ill or getting sick themselves.

Upon doing an internet search, it is clear that people have been looking for solutions to

feelings of isolation, loneliness, sadness, lack of motivation, disinterests, apathy and anxiety.

Many available resources have listed picking up a hobby, reading a book, watching movies or

talking with friends as the best ways to connect with pleasure. While these are great options,

they do not always speak to the skills that folks might be looking for. Additionally, of the

resources listed, many of the coping skills discussed are often methods of distraction, not

connection. So how can someone learn to access pleasure and during a time that is so

unprecedented? Although the list of ideas is not exhaustive, here are some ways that one can

access connection and pleasure.

List of ways to access pleasure and connection:

- Do things you want to do rather than have to do

- Make delicious food and savor the flavor

- Explore parks and outdoor spaces

- Move your body in a way that feels best for you

- Baske in the sun either outside or on your window sill

- Make time and plan virtual hangouts

- Connect in intentional ways with those in your bubble

- Send snail mail back and forth with friends and family

- Make something with your hands- anything

- Connect to your senses- do activities that involve smell, sight, touch, sound and taste.

- Do activities that create feelings of curiosity and wonder


References:

Hari, J. (2020). Lost connections . Bloomsbury Publishing.

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