How to Tap Into the Upside of Social Distancing

Spending all this time away from others can help us reconnect with ourselves and what truly brings us meaning.

fizkes/Shutterstock
fizkes/Shutterstock

Nobody is denying that social distancing — or more accurately, physical distancing — is difficult. And for many, it can be lonely and isolating. But given that it’s the right thing to do for public health during the coronavirus pandemic, why not try to look at the situation through a different lens? 

Some, like first responders, warehouse and delivery staff, and other essential workers can’t stay home and enjoy more free time, but for many — even if we’re working from home and/or taking care of children — staying in and slowing down presents a new opportunity to spend more time looking inwards and giving thought to what truly matters to us. 

While it’s key to continue deepening bonds with family and friends (even coming up with new ways to do so online), it’s also key to use this moment to deepen our connection with ourselves, which could lead to new realizations and epiphanies that can change our lives for the better, now and well into the future.

Here are four ways to look inward and focus on what brings us meaning:

Be silent 

Spending even just a few minutes a day in total silence, away from devices, can clear the mind. Schedule a small block of time to simply do nothing. Just allowing your thoughts to come and go is quite a relief and surprisingly calming. There’s a reason monks and nuns are calm and peaceful — they spend so much time in quiet contemplation. Building in this idle time can also encourage creative ideas and a-ha moments to bubble to the surface of your brain. 

Meditate

For those who profess not to have had the time to get into meditation, this is the time to experience the many science-supported benefits for yourself. Even a few minutes of breathing deeply and mindfully, whether we’re listening to a guided meditation, focusing on what we’re grateful for, or simply breathing, can help lower stress levels and make us more peaceful and joyful, even during difficult times like these. 

Get fresh air

Spending time in nature — especially in green spaces like parks, or blue spaces like lakes or rivers — has been proven to boost our mental well-being and reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Some therapists even prescribe time in nature for their patients. So put your phone away, keep a safe distance from others, and pay attention to what you’re seeing out there: squirrels, birds, trees, empty streets that are normally bustling. Settle into the quiet and experience yourself feeling calmer and more present.

Try a new hobby

If you’re homebound, it could be the perfect time to try out projects you’ve been meaning to do, whether it’s learning to bake or knit, taking a class in a topic you’ve been curious to learn about, starting that novel, or simply organizing your closets. Science  shows that new hobbies and endeavors can keep us sharp and engaged and boost our energy. And who knows — you might find a new skill that will benefit your career for years to come, or a hobby that will bring you joy for the rest of your life.

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