This article appeared in the July 15, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Loneliness and dancing in the pandemic

Chris Pizzello/AP
Musician Adam Chester, (l.), receives carrot cake cupcakes from neighbor Caryn Adams over a social-distancing chalk line before Chester's weekly neighborhood concert in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles on May 9, 2020.

One of the most important questions from the pandemic, we can’t answer yet: How will it change us? Months of social distancing and self-isolation raise concerns. The Well Being Trust, which advocates for mental, social, and spiritual health, suggests there could be 150,000 “deaths of despair” from drug overdoses to suicides.

Yet several new studies on loneliness are surprising the authors. “Like most people who study loneliness, we expected loneliness to go up,” Angelina Sutin, a behavioral scientist at Florida State University College of Medicine, told NPR. But the “loneliness scale” her team uses hasn’t budged.

As the pandemic shuttered many stores and businesses, neighbors began to rely on each other more, the article notes. Dana Lacy Amarisa and her 93-year-old mother, Jeanne Lacy, put a sign on their San Francisco garage announcing a weekly dance party – at a distance. After several weeks, neighbors started coming to watch, to dance, and to chat. “Dancing is healing medicine,” Ms. Amarisa says.

Other surveys are finding similar “hints of resilience” across the United States, NPR reports. Overall, levels of loneliness are too high, the researchers say. But Jonathan Kanter of the University of Washington adds: “If there is any silver lining to this – and it’s really hard to speak of silver linings – it was that so many people are finding ways to connect and finding ways to keep relationships.”

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This article appeared in the July 15, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 07/15 edition
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