When Your Trampoline Breaks: Avoid Isolation

Trampolines are like your friends during a crisis, says Sean Brotherson, an Extension family life specialist at North Dakota State University. 

“If you’ve ever bounced on a trampoline, you know it will catch you and bounce you back up. That’s what supportive relationships are like in our lives,” Brotherson says. 

It’s true, isn’t it? When hard times come, our friends help us bounce back from the struggle. They listen, encourage, share advice, and step in and help when needed. 

“Social distancing” has taken away so many of the joys in my life, most notably, opportunities to connect with my friends. I miss sitting on the bleachers with my friends watching track meets. I miss parking lot conversations with other parents as I’m running kids to and from practices. I miss church on Sunday and eating at our favorite local Mexican restaurant afterwards with friends. I even miss standing in line at Wal-Mart talking to random strangers (it’s amazing what you can learn or how you can be blessed sometimes!). 

Unfortunately, during this COVID-19 pandemic, I sometimes find myself isolating from that support system. Even though we’re not running from activity to activity, I’m working longer hours, spending more time cleaning and cooking, and trying to help my kids make up for lost time with their friends (believe me, it’s hard to replace another 6-year-old girl!). 

It’s exhausting and it’s easy to short myself of what I need.

One of the most powerful aspects of being in a relationship is it takes the focus off me and allows me to invest energy into thinking about others. In this time of social distancing, the “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” mentality can sneak in and cause us to take our eyes off others. We begin to think we’re all alone in this, even though we know we are not.

Brotherson suggests we take 15 minutes each day for uninterrupted conversation with a spouse or family member. And just as importantly, get involved or stay connected with a friend or a group of friends –multiple times a day. 

When I think about what matters most to me in life, it all boils down to people. We need our friends more than ever to help us bounce back up. Broken trampolines aren’t much fun.
 

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