As we find ourselves in an atmosphere where the terms “Social Distancing” and “Self Quarantine” become common, it can be easy to feel like your world is out of your control. I know here in the Mountains many people have already undergone a form of social distancing due to the winter weather, and are possibly more adjusted to be confined than those who have been living among large numbers of people on a daily basis.
We are products of routine and when that routine is abruptly altered, life as we know can become skewed. It seems as though perception becomes ourstrength, our weapon against challenging times. We do have a choice, a choice in how we view the circumstances and react. The United States is not a stranger to invisible attacks. Throughout history we as humans have been fighting a battle with viruses and diseases and we have prevailed.
I often think how well our ancestors would have fared in the past, if they had the ability to communicate like we do today. The internet can be a tool to harm or a tool to heal, we choose the way we utilize a worldwide connection to other humans. We have an advantage, technology, that keeps us connected in more ways than one. Our isolation then becomes physical with a window for spiritual and emotional support that remains wide open. We have the tools and ability to find new ways to feel connected.
We don’t have to be victims of isolation that creates a negative impact on our mental wellbeing. Humans are social beings and in times of crisis, we want to band together. We can come together, just not in the ways we are used to. It is important we do not lose that sense of connection during this period of uncertainty.
Here are some steps you can take to stay connected during social distancing.
1. Pick up the phone… or video chat
Living in the digital age, we have so many more ways to stay connected. Pick up the phone and speak to your older relatives who may not be online. Where you can, choose video chat – it is the closest experience to face-to-face interaction.
2. Take your clubs online
Where you cannot keep your regular social dates, book a group call. Whether it is a weekly coffee with friends, a book club or support group, fix a time as you would normally and all log on.
3. Choose your words wisely
If you are feeling worried and anxious, talk to your loved ones about it. Bottling it up will lead to greater feelings of anxiety. However, try not to impose your fears onto others. Where you can, take the opportunity to be positive and share a joke to lift others’ spirits, particularly when you are speaking to people in at-risk groups. If they want to talk about their concerns, just listen. You do not need to come up with a solution, just be there and try not to be dismissive.
4. Spend time with a pet
When you are spending increased amounts of time at home, our furry friends provide a wonderful way to keep connected. Research has shown that spending time with animals is beneficial to our mental wellbeing. Interact with your pet regularly to boost your mood. However, if you do develop coronavirus symptoms, WHO guidelines advise avoiding close contact with your pets during this time.
5. Be kind
If there are people in your community who are vulnerable, let them know you are thinking of them. Drop a note through your neighbors’ doors with your contact information so they can call you if there is anything they need. There is a postcard template you can fill in to show your neighbors you are there for them. Becky Wass from the UK created the print-at-home postcard while thinking of ways she could help.
6. Get online
Join an online community (such as this one!). There is a forum or social media group for pretty much anything! From large forums to local community Facebook groups, join active communities that are in line with your interests and make new connections.
7. Start an online course
Studying from home is becoming increasingly popular. Take a look at some of the courses you can sign up for, whether it is a professional qualification or a leisure activity like creative writing or a self-development course.
8. Look after yourself
With our social lives taking a backseat, this is an opportunity to get comfortable in your own company. Modern living has many of us rushing from one thing to the next, always ‘on’ 24/7. Now you can take a step back and slow down. Dedicate some time to things you enjoy. Treat yourself to a relaxing bath, an online yoga class or work your way through the books on your must-read list. Taking some time just for you will allow you to develop a deeper connection with yourself and improve your relationships with others.
This is an uncertain time and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and like you want to retreat and hide away from the world. You are not alone. We are all in this together. Keep talking to your friends and family, maintain as much of a routine as you can, and remember to take some time out for self-care.
Reach out and connect, share a piece of your heart today. United we stand, divided we fall. Let’s take a stand for humanity.