Over the last week and a half, I have been in hardcore physical distancing mode. As an extroverted-introvert, being told to stay home was unsettling. However, recognizing its importance in the effort to contain the spread of Covid-19, I am doing my part to not only flatten the curve, but in the words of Dr. Theresa Tam, “plank” it.
By now, we know the importance of physical distancing in slowing the spread of Covid-19. As stated by Lisa Maragakis, M.D., M.P.H., Senior Director of infection prevention at Johns Hopkins, “social distancing is deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness.” Slowing the spread of coronavirus and flattening the curve will allow the health system to provide the care and support needed to those affected.
Initially, the idea of physical distancing was daunting. After all, human connection is important and has many benefits. As Brené Brown states, “we are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to.” Being told to distance, quarantine and self-isolate presents barriers that can make it difficult to feel connected to others. During this time, we need to encourage connection with others while keeping our physical distance and ensure we are not compromising our mental health. We need to practice “distant socializing”, a term used by Jamil Zaki, an Associate Professor of Psychology at Stanford University.
While we have to modify how we work, live and play, this time is also an opportunity to recognize the goodness that surrounds us. The stories of acts of kindness, communities pulling together, innovation and creativity have been inspiring. For me personally, I have been enjoying connecting with friends and family all over the globe through group chats, video calls and emails. While we do this on a regular basis, this is different – there is a common underlying tone of empathy – we really are in this together.
As we move through the Covid-19 crisis, we will inevitably experience different phases of emotions and ultimately come out on the other side stronger and more resilient. It will be important to fulfill our need to be social and connect with others. Take this time as an opportunity to engage with friends and family through virtual activities that may resonate with different people in your life. Below are suggestions that may help itch your need to be connected as we all work together to do our part.
Create a routine
During times of extreme uncertainty, having a routine will help anchor us, while providing structure. This might include waking up at the same time every morning, practicing mindfulness, creating a to-do list for the day, and writing down three things we are grateful for.
Set Goals and Projects
Create goals and projects of what you want to achieve during this time. Think of it as an opportunity to take care of some of those items on your “to-do” list that always gets shoved to the bottom. Maybe this is the time to bring out the Marie Kondo Magic or finish that vision board that you’ve been putting off since the beginning of the year?! At the end of each week, take time to reflect of what you accomplished. This allows you to see your growth, progress and recognize your achievements.
Do 30 minutes of physical activity daily. If you are in a place where you can get outside, go for a walk or a run. If not, dedicate a space where you can hit a mat for some yoga or do an online class. There are several apps and fitness studios offering classes. Check out Aptiv or Down Dog.
Check in Messages
It is amazing how far one text or message can go. Allocate time in your day to send check-in messages to friends and family. During these times, you never know the impact of a quick message.
Find ways to play to induce laughter. This might be in the form of playing board games virtually (Connect Four works very well) or online games such as Heads Up or Eye Spy.
Dance Parties and Online Concerts
Music is good or the soul. DJ’s around the world are hosting dance parties through their social channels. Jump on a video call with friends and check out DJ Nice’s #clubquarantine (@dnice) or DJ Al V (@djalvpapercrown). Several artists are also offering online concerts from their home to yours. Keep an eye on your favorite artists’ social feeds.
Watch a Movie
Do you have a list of movies and shows you want to catch up on? Netflix has introduced a plug-in called Netflix Party that allows multiple people to watch the same show at the same with a group chat feature. Connect with friends and bond over a new show!
During a crisis, many people turn to the power of prayer and are currently feeling a void as their usual places of prayer are closed. Call a friend and say a prayer together or check out this link for a list of masses from around the world.
Use this time as an opportunity to take an online course or brush up on a skill you have been wanting to hone. There are several online learning communities. One of my favorites is Skill Share. Also check out this list of Ivy League online courses compiled by Dawal Shah, the founder of Class Central. Perhaps this is an opportunity to take a class with a friend or tell them about your learnings.
Learn a New Recipe
As a friend of mine says, “Food is Love.” Is there a dish or a meal that you have always wanted to learn to cook? This is a great time learn try out a new recipe. Get friends involved by “cooking together” and sharing a virtual meal.
Online Book Club
Get some friends together and choose a book to read that has been on your list. Set up a video call to discuss the book, your thoughts, and feelings about the book. Prior to the call, submit questions and observation for a more focused conversation.
While the current climate of the world’s activities is somewhat unsettling, these times also bring about beautiful moments. This is an opportunity to be creative, innovative and carry out actions in ways we have not done previously. Be kind to one another and to yourself. Practice self-love, and be sure to stay distantly social.