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