Julie Hayward: starved of contact & hungry for unplugged connectivity


I don’t know about you, but I have been struggling with my levels of motivation since going into lockdown in March.


Don’t get me wrong, I know I am coming from a position of privilege, in which I have not suffered loss or illness in my family and friendship group, and have been able to carry on working, so have no financial worries. However, despite that, I have found myself really struggling to stay motivated without really understanding why that might be.



I have read many articles lately, giving advice on how to work more effectively at home, be more productive and maintain a feeling of connectivity in the virtual world, but yet I still find myself feeling lost and disconnected from people.


I have had many a ‘voffee’ with friends and colleagues but they do not seem to satisfy my craving to feel a real sense of connection with people. I miss the spontaneity of meeting in corridors and lifts with work colleagues and sharing experiences in coffee shops, bars and restaurant with friends and family.


I especially miss having company when I am walking and though I do often talk on the phone with friends as I walk, they are not sharing the space with me; hearing the waves breaking on the beach seeing the sun sparkle on the water and smelling the salty air. Somehow, it is not even close to the same and does not leave me feeling as motivated as when I meet with others in person.


My situation is compounded by the fact I am shielding, as I share a home with a vulnerable person, and so my ability to interact with others in the same space is severely limited, even with the lifting of restrictions.


I find myself craving social interaction in the real world, as opposed to the virtual one, more and more. I want to escape the wires that tie me to the desk and the screens that seem to form a barrier to real human connection. I want to be literally unplugged and able to connect to people in a shared space.


I knew something about what might be behind this powerful craving in relation to a fundamental human motivator, that of relatedness. According to Deci and Ryan’s Self-Determination theory, both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are highly influential determinants of behaviour, which drive us to meet these three basic needs:


So the need to have close affectionate relationships with others has a powerful relationship with motivation; strong social relationships can foster motivation and well-being. People need to experience a sense of belonging and attachment to other people, which for me has been difficult to replicate in the virtual world.


A quick search of the internet also revealed something else that which might explain the way I am feeling. Social contact, like food, is a basic human need and when it’s removed produces a similar effect on the brain to that of hunger. After only ten hours of isolation, despite knowing when it would end, people reported substantially more social craving, loneliness, discomfort, dislike of isolation, and decreased happiness, creating similar reactions in the brain to those seen after ten hours of food fasting. So, it would seem I am literally hungry for social interaction, which is clearly having a negative effect on my levels of motivation.


I long for a time in which I can connect, unplugged, with family, friends and colleagues, as well as discovering new relationships with others. If you are like me and craving connection in the real world again, then watch this space for upcoming dates for #goodwalks. There will also be opportunities to get involved in #goodpaddles and #goodsurfs in association with Surf Therapy. All socially distanced off course.


We look forward to seeing you.


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