Be Well

Social Connect: An Antidote for Stress and Social Isolation

7/26/2021

Stress and social isolation can affect anyone. If you are an older adult or a person with disabilities, you probably know that you are particularly at risk for them. Social Connect is proving to be a resource that can help you stay well, learn how to manage stress and get connected to others through the program’s classes.

 

Brenda Bous learned firsthand the benefits of enrolling in Social Connect. She uses a wheelchair and doesn’t drive, but had a routine before the pandemic that kept her connected with others. She volunteered five days a week, she went to church, and she would see her friends and family.

But in March 2020 her social routine came to an abrupt halt as people were encouraged to stay home and organizations and businesses closed. After learning about Social Connect and giving it a try, Brenda is happy she did. “It really helped me along,” she says. She appreciated being able to talk with others facing the same struggles as she was and problem-solve with them. An added bonus for Brenda was being connected with people across the state whom she would not have met otherwise.

How the Social Connect program works

The program, now available both in-person and online, consists of six classes that run 45 minutes each. When you enroll, here is what to expect:

  • To start the class, a Juniper-trained instructor leads participants in a series of gentle seated movements based on either Tai Ji Quan or yoga.
  • Next, the class shifts to stress management practices to help participants learn to recognize emotions as they crop up and how to interrupt the cycle of stress and anxiety. Less stress can lead to a more positive outlook, better sleep and a more robust immune system.

  • Then participants are welcome to share their experiences, concerns and self-care strategies with each other, guided by the Juniper instructor to keep the conversations safe and non-judgmental. “People are really ready to open up about concerns and things they are challenged with,” noted one instructor, which often leads to other participants sharing their own experiences and offering support. Brenda, for example, was happy to share her lifelong experience of using a wheelchair when others in her class, anticipating their own future use of a wheelchair, wanted some advice from her. “And if you need to reach out, I’m here,” she said. In one Juniper class, people felt so connected that they continued to meet online on their own for months afterward.

Finding a class that fits your schedule

Look for dates, times or locations that work for you at yourjuniper.org. Or call 855-215-2174 to speak to a Juniper specialist. And be sure to check out the many other Juniper classes available to help you stay well, stay connected and take charge!

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