Until we have a vaccine or a cure for COVID-19, chances are we are all going to be spending a lot of time at home for the foreseeable future. Social distancing is difficult, mainly because no one really agrees on what it actually means. As it turns out, inviting a bunch of friends over for drinks and trying to stay six feet apart doesn’t actually count. But that doesn’t mean you have to socially isolate yourself to stay safe and healthy. There’s a fine line between social distancing and social isolation, and it’s more important than ever to strike that balance for the good of your mental health.
Why Social Distancing?
Because there’s no known cure or vaccine for COVID-19 yet, our best defense is a good offense. Carriers can be infected and spread the virus for up to two weeks before they ever show symptoms. Because of this, staying at home even if you feel healthy is the best way to slow the spread.
Social distancing means staying home as much as possible and only leaving for necessities, like working if you can’t do your job from home, medical emergencies, and groceries once a week or less. When you do have to leave your home, social distancing measures mean that you should stay at least six feet apart from other people and wear a mask.
Some things that are still considered social distancing are actually good for preventing feelings of isolation. Going for a walk or walking your dog in your neighborhood – or even another neighborhood if you need a change of scenery – is a great way to get exercise and help yourself feel better.
Calling people on a regular basis is a great way to stay connected. Right now you will need to nurture your relationships with friends, family, and colleagues so that you have the foundation to start rebuilding your life after all this is over and done.
Set a routine. Get up and go to bed at the same time every day. Eat regular meals. Set aside time for working and do it in a separate space to keep your mind compartmentalized. Make part of your routine exercising either before or after work every day and set a daily time to call people on the telephone – texting just doesn’t cut it.
You can still have a Zoom meet up with your friends, go for a hike in a natural area, and more to prevent feelings of isolation from setting in, and it’s more important than ever to be vigilant about your mental health.
Loneliness Doesn’t Have To Be Part Of The Epidemic
While there was a longstanding epidemic of loneliness before the pandemic began, it doesn’t have to be exacerbated by our need for social distancing. Around half of American adults reported feeling lonely before the pandemic, and that figure has skyrocketed as people struggle to find the appropriate balance in their lives. Learn more about social distancing and preventing feelings of isolation during COVID-19 from the infographic below.
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