With the eyes of the world on the developments surrounding the COVID 19 – coronavirus, our news feeds, social media feeds, and everyday conversations are focusing on the pandemic facing your communities. Each day more restrictions are imposed and closures are mandated for individuals, schools, and businesses across the nation. This coronavirus has disrupted the life of every individual in recent days and will likely continue for several more weeks. With campaigns encouraging social distancing and a break from your regular routine it is easy to become overwhelmed and stressed with all of the recent changes
What is Social Distancing?
Social distancing is an important measure and tool being implemented by the government and health officials during this health crisis to attempt to slow and reduce the spread of the coronavirus through your community. This measure helps not only lessen the number of people that contracts the disease but also helps the healthcare system to manage the impact more effectively rather than overloading it.
The Impacts of Social Distancing
The reality is that while social distancing is a much-needed step to protect the community during this dangerous threat from the coronavirus it can also present a number of struggles for individuals dealing with mental health issues or individuals who already live relatively solitary lives becoming more isolated.
It is critical to differentiate that social distance does not mean it is necessary to be socially isolated. Social distancing can make a positive impact for you and your community by reducing the transmission of the virus and potentially saving lives. However, social isolation by eliminating personal connections completely can be extremely detrimental to your own personal wellbeing and that of others.
Unfortunately, social distancing creates a challenge for individuals to remain connected and often brings to the forefront struggles with anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. In fact, studies have found a correlation between the role of social contacts and their ability to buffer the negative effects of stress. While no one can predict the overall impacts and effects to society that social distancing will have it is highly likely to affect everyone in some capacity and those suffering from mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression as well as those combating substance abuse will be more susceptible and vulnerable in this situation.
How to Stay Connected During This Time
While the risk of isolation from social distancing can cause individuals to face mounting pressures and emotions there are several ways to prepare and connect to the outside world in a way that can still be fulfilling and therapeutic.
Use Social Media the Right Way
Social media can be a bit of a double-edged sword in a situation such as this. It is a great tool to remain connected with families and friends but can also be a source of anxiety if used to discuss current events and raise negativity rather than focusing on doom, gloom, and arguments.
Facetime & Phone Calls
There is nothing quite like hearing the reassuring voice of a close friend, mentor, or family member. Do not underestimate the power of a simple phone call to check up on another and have a quick chat. If you are missing the face to face interaction consider using your video messaging capabilities through your phone, Facebook, or Whatsapp.
Join a Virtual Session
Are you missing out on your exercise classes, meetings, or other activities? Through this crisis organizations and businesses have quickly adapted their business structures and are offering their clients and customers virtual options for exercise classes, therapy sessions, hobby-related meetings, and conferences. Contact your providers and see what options they have available for you to participate from home during this time.
Other Considerations to Make During Social Distancing
Maintaining a meaningful connection with your friends and family is critical during this difficult and uncertain time for your mental and physical wellbeing. In addition to incorporating the methods mentioned above to keep in touch with your contacts, it is also important to establish a productive routine during these social distancing measures even if you are stuck at home.
Find a Purpose
If you are a helper and doer at heart try to find outlets to become a valuable resource in your community from your home. You may be able to offer your assistance to organizations or local businesses that may be of need in providing essential services to the population.
Being home all day can lead to bored eating and excess consumption of processed foods. Try to maintain a healthy and nutritious diet that will leave you feeling your body at its best.
Sleep – It is easy to lose track of time and a schedule when you have nowhere to be, but establishing and following a healthy sleep schedule is important for your mental and physical wellness. Ensure you are getting a sufficient amount of restful sleep each night to tackle each day with a rested and clear mind.
Practice Your Skills
Take this unprecedented moment to focus on your favorite hobbies or develop your skills and if you do not have a hobby now is a great time to explore some options to keep your mind and body active and occupied. Whether it be painting, knitting, reading a book, a DIY project, or a new language; take advantage of all of this free time to better yourself and enjoy some of the simpler things in life.
One of the best tools you can use to keep your mind healthy is to keep your body moving and strong. If you have a backyard or patio, go outside to get some sun and maybe a workout or yoga session. If you are not ill, go for a long walk or hike to enjoy some fresh air while getting some exercise.
Being proactive about social distancing and knowing what to expect will help you through this time in a positive and productive manner. Look forward to each day as an opportunity to learn something new and accomplish a new goal.