Social distancing has been proven to be one of the most effective means of stemming the spread of the novel coronavirus. Unfortunately, social distancing – such as not attending large outdoor events with 100 more people – also means not venturing out into public as much and not doing some of the things you enjoy, like going to work or church, and not getting to see many of the people you care about.
Paradoxically, social distancing makes it harder to find social support at a time when we might need it the most. But if we are creative, we can explore ways to enhance our self-care. Here are a few tips for staying mentally and emotionally healthy during this time:
• Social distancing does not mean social isolation. We often think, “I wish I had more time to spend with my loved ones.” Here’s the good news: while social distancing precludes attendance at large gatherings, you could actually get to spend more one-on-one time with your family. Think of it as an opportunity to have the kind of conversations you dream about. Try busting out the old board games and doing various activities with one another. For those living alone, a great use of technology would be to reach out to loved ones via video chat to stay connected. Long hours of isolation are unhealthy for everyone.
• Social distancing does not mean that you cannot go outside. Actually, scientists say, exposure to fresh air helps reduce the spread of viruses. Research also underscores the positive impact of exercise on the immune system. So take this time to take hikes or play ball in the park – by yourself or with loved ones. Spending at least an hour outside is best. And even if you’re inside, try to keep the windows cracked. You might feel rejuvenated, and it could be a nice antidote to cabin fever.
• Use this time to connect to something deeper within yourself. Our lives are so hectic that it can feel we’re just treading water amid our “to-do” lists. How many of us really yearn for more time spent in reflection, creative expression, music, dance, spiritual practice or self-care? This might be a good time to really think deeply about where you are in your life. What makes you feel grateful? Are you living a healthy and meaningful life that brings out the best version of yourself? Are you needing to make some changes?