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The paradox of Social Distancing – Why it is important?

Social distancing is a set of non-pharmaceutical measures taken by maintaining a distance to stop or slow the spread of a contagious disease.

In these trying times, when a pandemic has taken the world by a storm, social distancing fits the bill.

Social distancing is a set of non-pharmaceutical measures taken by maintaining a distance to stop or slow the spread of a contagious disease. Minimal physical contact lessens the possibility of getting an infection. With the spread of COVID-19, most of the countries are practising social distance and other preventive measures to slow the transmission. These preventive measures include

  • Washing your hand with soapy warm water or sanitizers for 20 seconds.
  • Maintaining a physical distance of at least 3 feet or 1 meter from anyone who’s sick.
  • Avoid touching your face, eye, nose and mouth with dirty hands.
  • Covering your mouth with a mask if you are sick.
  • Using disinfectants to clean the frequently touched surfaces.
  • Following the instructions and protocols are given by health care officials

Why Social Distancing is important?

As coronavirus cases are soaring high, all countries are urged by the WHO to follow social distancing recommendations on the individual, national and community level to slow the outbreak.

The World health organization is preferring to call it physical distance instead. Maria Van Karkhove, an infectious disease epidemiologist with WHO said in a news conference “We’ve been saying ‘physical distancing’ because it is important to remain physically separate but emotionally connected.”

Novel Coronavirus transmission happens through coughing, sneezing and close contact. Minimal contact reduces the chance of catching the virus and spreading it to family members or other people in contact with.

Who is most at risk for Coronavirus disease?

Social distance is important for everyone as people of all ages are prone to catching the Virus. Some individuals are more at risk to suffer severe complications caused by COVID-19. These individuals are

  • Older people as the percentage of fatalities is higher in older adults than in younger individuals.
  • People with pre-existing chronic medical conditions like asthma, heart disease, diabetes and other lung diseases.

Social Distancing and Mental Health

Quarantine, Self Isolation and Social Distancing has consequences on physical and mental well being of a person because Human beings are social animals. As strict social restrictions are put in place to keep people apart, this global pandemic is capable of taking a toll on mental health causing adverse health outcomes. Surveys suggest severe anxiety and fear of increased suicide rate. As per Holt Lunstad’s research impact of loneliness results in the risk of earlier death by 26%, social isolation by 29% and living alone by 32%.

Who are more effected by self-isolation psychologically?

This pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of general public.But some people are more susceptible to the impact includes

  • Children and teens
  • Having history of mental illness
  • Health care workers
  • Domestic violence victims
  • People having low incomes
  • Prisoners

What fuels anxiety in the times of lockdown?

Everyone deals with stressful situations differently.People may experience anxiety related to

  • Uncertainty about how long the pandemic lasts
  • Depression and frustration
  • Boredom over loss of regular day to day activities
  • The potential loss of income because of restrictions
  • Anger if you have been exposed by someone not following the protocols
  • Loneliness as being cut off from your loved ones
  • Storing enough grocery and personal care items

How to cope with anxiety during social isolation?

It is normal to feel anxious in these stressful times. With a little help and a healthy routine it is possible. There are ways to cope such as

  • Get help from the therapist: Many therapists are offering telehealth visits during the lockdown. Telehealth apps are available for help via audio and video chat. So if you experience severe anxiety you know where to go.
  • Stay Connected:Stay connected with your friends, family and loved ones via audio or video call so you feel less lonely.
  • Physical Activity: Keeping yourself busy with excercise, running, walking, yoga will take some strain off your brain.
  • Keeping Busy: Keep yourself busy with some hobby like painting, gardening, cooking or anything you are interested in.
  • Set a routine: Maintain a routine of your daily work and chore.Make sure you give exercise and meditation adequate time.
  • Stay Calm: Stay calm by meditating or praying.

Social Distancing Impact On Physical Health

Social isolation is an indicator of poor health. It increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Lack of physical activity could lead to obesity. Loneliness can lead to diabetes, sleep deprivation, dementia and autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. It weakens the immune system making it more prone to infections.

It is impossible to not feel the stress in these times of chaos. social isolation has some serious impact on mental and physical health but it is the only answer to curb the spread of accelerating pandemic. We just have to hang in there a while till this is over.

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