How to Remain Safe, Healthy, and Connected During Social Distancing
Whoever thought that we would someday need to practice social distancing? When we rang in 2020 just a few short months ago, we could hardly have imagined that, before spring had even arrived, our whole lives would change. In a matter of weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has closed our schools and workplaces, canceled our spring holidays, and shuttered the world’s great cities.
It’s also turned quality time with our loved ones into a potentially mortal threat. Hugs have become dangerous. Kisses have become toxic. To save our lives and the lives of those we love, we’ve had to separate ourselves from some of the very people who make life worth living. But social distancing does not have to mean completely isolating ourselves from everything and everyone, including those we love.
You can still protect your health while also protecting your sanity and still guard against the virus while also safeguarding the relationships you hold dear. This article will show you how to deal with social distancing with some degree of grace.
Connecting from a Distance
There’s never a good time for a pandemic, of course, but if it had to happen, in many ways, we’re lucky it happened now, smack in the middle of the digital revolution. Now, more than ever, we have at our fingertips a library of affordable, user-friendly technologies that allow us to connect virtually with those we love.
From Skype and Zoom to Facetime and Google Hangouts, we can video chat in real-time with friends and family, no matter where they may be. Because most platforms can accommodate dozens if not hundreds or even thousands of participants at a time, you can host a virtual family reunion or girls’ night out, right on your computer or mobile device.
This means you have a perfect opportunity, and the perfect reason, to reconnect online with friends and family that you perhaps haven’t seen in a while. Now that we all have a lot of unexpected time on our hands, there’s no better way to fill the hours — and fight the loneliness — than to reach out to someone who’s been missing you, and who you have been missing!
Do a Neighborhood To-Do!
Just because you can’t visit or host your neighbors inside your house doesn’t mean you can’t have some friendly, neighborhood fun! All it takes is a little creativity!
You might let your community’s artistic side shine through by turning your street into an art gallery. Break out the sidewalk chalk and turn your driveway into a museum. Have your neighbors do the same, and then take a walking tour — at a safe distance — of your neighbors’ masterpieces!
If drawing stick men is about the extent of your artistic talent, don’t despair! There’s still lots of ways you and your neighbors can have fun during our nationwide hiatus from the usual rat race. Set aside a time each evening to break out the iTunes and host a neighborhood dance-at-a-distance party!
As you’re dancing at a distance, consider toasting your friends and neighbors with a favorite cocktail. Just remember that, even though you’re probably not going to be driving anywhere, it’s a good idea to keep a watch on your alcohol intake. After all, it’s not hard to overindulge when you’ve got nowhere to go and nothing but time on your hands!
Get to Work — But Not Too Much
One of the best ways to stay sane while social distancing is to maintain a routine that is as close to normal as possible. If you’re one of the fortunate ones who is able to work from home, being able to do your job not only means you’re going to feel more financially secure, but you’re also going to feel more productive, more useful. That’s exactly the kind of predictability and achievement we need in these scary and uncertain times. The important thing is to create a designated workplace, establish a routine, and stick to it.
That also means making sure that you honor deadlines. Meet your workplace responsibilities as best as you can with the tools you have, and continue to communicate respectfully and responsibly with your clients and colleagues.
If you’re a supervisor, you’re also going to have to be extra attentive to your employees’ needs. Transitioning to remote work, especially in the face of a global health crisis, can be daunting and stressful. Your employees are likely going to need extra support and a lot of patience to remain engaged with their work. That means taking great care to listen to employees’ concerns and to address their questions. You may find yourself playing the role of both mental health counselor and tech support and be called upon to be both a boss and a friend.
Staying sane by staying productive, however, doesn’t mean falling into the trap of constant work. When your home is also your office, the temptation to work around the clock can be almost irresistible. That, however, is the surest path to burnout. Since we still don’t know how long this crisis is going to last or what life is going to look like once the lockdown is lifted, it’s imperative that you pace yourself. Separate your work life from your home life, even when working from home. Above all, remember that, now, more than ever, striking the right work/life balance is key to your physical and mental health.
We’re living in strange times, but our relationships, not to mention our physical and mental health, don’t have to pay the price. Now is the ideal time to take advantage of today’s digital technologies to reconnect with friends and loved ones, especially those we haven’t seen in awhile or who may be having a particularly hard time in this period of social isolation.
As life slows down, we also have a tremendous opportunity to reach out to our neighbors and connect with our community. From staging neighborhood, art shows to hosting dance-at-a-distance block parties, the time to finally meet and get to know your neighbors is now.
Finally, if you’re lucky enough to be able to work from home, establishing a work routine can help you to feel more normal and productive again. It will also help you maintain your connections with your clients and colleagues. At the same time, it’s important not to let work become all-consuming. There will never be a better time than now to find the work/life balance you’ve been missing!
Happy social distancing!