Social distancing: What, why, and how to combat the side effects.

There is an overwhelming number of social distancing measures being put into place by governments across the globe to slow the spread of the Coronavirus. Due to a lack of cooperation, more concrete social distancing regulations are now being put in place to combat skyrocketing infection rates. To some, particularly low-risk individuals, these measures are thought to be excessive and unnecessary. This attitude is dangerous and incredibly selfish. By ignoring the social distancing recommendations, these individuals are in effect enabling the unbridled spread of COVID-19, putting thousands of higher-risk individuals in harm’s way. This is a time where we must band together in empathy for those at risk, and make the changes in our liv to protect ourselves and those around us.

What This Means For Daily Life
The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak is very direct and apparent for most of us now. Every day more events are postponed or canceled, bars are closed, and restaurants are only serving carryout. Now, certain cities are placing citizens under shelter in place protocol, meaning citizens can only leave their residences if it’s absolutely essential. While practicing social distancing, our goal is to maintain adequate distance (recommended at least 6 feet) from individuals and to avoid gathering in groups of people larger than 10. This is achieved through: 

  • Working from home instead of at the office
  • Closing schools or switching to online classes
  • Visiting loved ones by electronic devices instead of in-person
  • Canceling or postponing conferences and large meetings
  • Self-quarantine

Side Effects of Social Distancing
It’s part of our nature to seek out human connection, and with the self-quarantining taking place, it is becoming increasingly more difficult, and more dangerous, to socialize. Exercise is also going to be more difficult with gyms and parks closing. It’s important to pay close attention to your mental health while we grapple with our new normal. Check out these tips on ways to cope with our new strange reality:

Establish a routine. We are creatures of habit and such a massive shakeup in our day-to-day can really hurt productivity. It’s important to find a new routine to keep your self from slipping into a rut. Check out this post on how to create a schedule during stressful times.

Make your home office. Social distancing measures often include working from home, and this style of work can take some getting used to. One way to ease that transition is to create a space to become your “home office”. This does not require an extra room or tons of space, it can even be a particular seat at your kitchen table. The key here is having a spot where you are going to go to work, providing some level of separation from work zones and relaxing zones.

Leverage video chat. While social distancing, we will naturally be seeing a lot less of coworkers, as well as friends and family. It’s important to maintain those relationships with some face-to-face interaction, and regular video chats can help bridge the gap.

Exercise inside! There are around 62 million individuals with gym memberships in America. That’s a lot of people needing to find new ways to exercise. There are tons of great resources online for exercising at home without equipment. It’s very important to keep exercising regularly to maintain your mental health. The value of having a small workout in your new routine should not be overlooked.

Eat well. Just like exercise, your diet will directly affect your mental health. It’s very easy to slip into bad eating habits while you’re stuck inside, so it’s important to make clean eating a focus.

Find some new “inside” hobbies. The boredom will inevitably set in when you’re stuck inside. Fight back against it with some new creative activities:

  • Learning an instrument
  • Reading a book
  • Cooking
  • Learning a language
  • Art

Gain a new experience—remotely! Take a look at these top museums that are offering online tours and exhibits to help people cope with staying home. And if that's not enough culture for you, New York's Metropolitan Opera will be offering free digital shows every night at 7:30 p.m. from March 16 through March 22, or go "outside" with incredible virtual tours of some of America's best national parks!