Social Distancing: 3 ways to navigate

Welcome to the new world of social distance

Social Distancing. Flattening the Curve. Stay at home, Stay Safe. None of us asked to come here, but we are all here together, nonetheless. While this crisis has been unexpected, the fact is that everyone experiences many kinds of crises throughout their lifetimes. Simon Sinek reminded us last week that these are not unprecedented times, and that the people and organizations who creatively adapt to our new shared reality will not just survive but thrive.

But before we thrive in our reinvented lives, we have to figure out how to get through the reality of social distancing. In Michigan we are entering week 3 spending long periods of time alone or with our family. Netflix and Facebook can only get you so far. To help you, here are 3 ways to come through social distancing well.

1 – Keep a routine

With nowhere to go and few people to see, it can be easy to let things slide. Who needs pants? Do I have to do the laundry? Who needs to wash dishes? When should to shave?

Answers: You do, Yes, Everyone, and Today

Adding structure to your day, even in simple ways, can go a long way to help your days feel smoother and more productive. It is as simple as activities like making your bed, showering, and getting dressed every morning.

Want to finish a project or learn a new skill? Set aside 15 minutes a day to work on it.

In the end, what you do doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you have a routine doing something.

2 – Unplug

With news and events changing by the day if not the hour, keeping up on social media and the news feel like drinking from a fire hose. But just like the fire hose is likely to leave us bruised and still thirsty, the news and social media are likely to leave us anxious, confused, and upset.

The solution? Take a break, take a deep breath. Set aside set times where you do not check your phone or refresh that news feed. Or, better yet, schedule yourself a set amount of time to check 1-2 trusted, reliable sources of information (read: not Twitter).

This disconnected time is a great chance to catch up with others (more on that later), or to check in with ourselves. Headspace is a fantactic tool for increasing daily mindfulness, and has a number of free tools and resources available during the COVID-19 Pandemic. As an added bonus, educators and healthcare workers are all eligible for free access to Headspace Plus!

3 – Remember: Social Distance is not Social Isolation

Loneliness and isolation are very real problems for many people. The social distance measures encouraged by public health officials are a necessary to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19, but they are not without drawbacks. Isolation and loneliness can increase symptoms of depression. What is worse, left unaddressed, they can actually make us more susceptible to getting physical illness.

However, there are ways to practice physical distance but social connection. Zoom and other video conferencing tools have taken the world by storm, and not just for work. People are hosting virtual birthday parties, virtual happy hours, and virtual brunches. Or there is always the good old phone call. However you reach out, the key is to reach out directly and check in. Perhaps you schedule a weekly chat with you mom, or your siblings. Are you opening a bottle of wine? See if any of your friends want to share a glass and talk about their day.

These ideas are by no means exhaustive. For each of these suggestions, the possibilities are endless, and the best time to start is right now.

If you are struggling – reach out for help

Sometimes things are really hard, and it is helpful to have a listening ear. If you or someone you know are struggling to manage your anxiety or depression, even after trying some of these strategies, then it may be time to seek professional help. The good news is that your therapist can come to you (virtually). Technology allows us to connect securely anywhere in the world, and therapy is no different. TC Counseling is still accepting new clients. Please contact us today and let’s talk.

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