Life after coronavirus: Will we see a social recession?

Family groups are separated by tables and signs that tell them to social distance at Around the Clock Diner - East in Springettsbury Township. (Paul Kuehnel/York Daily Record via AP)
Family groups are separated by tables and signs that tell them to social distance at Around the Clock Diner - East in Springettsbury Township. (Paul Kuehnel/York Daily Record via AP) (York Daily Record)

With restaurants closed, events canceled and millions out of work during the COVID-19 pandemic, experts say we may soon be in an economic recession. But will there also be another type of recession brewing?

Now that we’ve been behind closed doors for weeks -- not only do we face an economic recession -- but a social one as well.

A social recession is a fraying of social bonds. This can impact people’s moods, health, ability to work and learn, as well as harm their sense of community.

“It’s going to take some time to transition,” said Flora Torra, a psychologist.

There are things we can do to make sure our social muscle doesn’t atrophy.

First, spend at least 15 minutes each day communicating with people -- other than the people you’re living with.

Second, make the time you do spend with people as distraction-free as possible.

Third, practice moments of solitude.

Fourth, reach out and help others, but keep in mind, it’s going to take different amounts of time for different people to feel like our new normal is normal.

“Let’s be more thoughtful or conscious of space from now on,” said Torra.

Long before the novel coronavirus separated people, loneliness was rampant. In 2018, an AARP study found 35% of people over the age of 45 were already lonely.

And by most measures, more adults in the United States struggle with loneliness than smoke or have diabetes.