Social Distancing is hard. Humans are social organisms, and we need the connection with others. For years we have been using social media and found value in it, but now that we are restricted to it, we are more aware of its limitations. On the other hand, it is a lifeline for us professionally and personally. At the moment, however, there’s so much information being put out it can be overwhelming. Just like we teach students the differences between a search and research, there are different ways to stay connected, some more helpful than others. For the sake of your sanity, you need to pick and choose what is giving the most valuable information for you as well as where you can make the greatest contribution.
Staying connected is important for our mental health which also affects our physical well being. When the news seems all bad, we still need to be able to form a positive mindset as often as possible. Michael Lee Stallard and Katharine P. Stallard explain Why Relational Connection Is So Important During the Coronavirus Pandemic. After detailing why its important, they present these 12 actions to take while maintaining physical isolation.
- Cultivate a connection mindset – In addition to reaching out on social media, make phone calls to family and friends. I have found it has been a wonderful chance to speak to people rather than text or find out what’s happening to them via Facebook.
- Maintain an optimistic mindset – This is not easy, but do what you can to look for the good news. There is always something. Spread the good word. This doesn’t mean become foolhardy and pretend this isn’t serious, but you won’t help yourself by plunging into depression. And by sharing positive information, you may help others.
- Take care of yourself – There’s nothing new in this advice. You can’t help anyone if you don’t take care of yourself. As a long-time Weight Watcher, I am well aware of the dangers of emotional eating and how it never works. Find ways to stay physically active and do the things that give you pleasure.
- Cultivate practices that produce contentment and avoid excitatory practices – This is the one I need to take to heart. I have to spend less time on social media. It’s an addiction and habit that is not helping me. Playing Klondike is a more helpful addiction at this time. It gives me pleasure and keeps me from thinking about the negative (see #2.)
- Get creative on how you might engage in activities with others – The Stallards point to the Italians who are singing together from their balconies. You can get a Zoom room for 45 minutes for free and have a “lunch meeting” with your friends or an evening chat if that works better.
- Pause to be grateful – This is one of my favorite suggestions. The Stallards recommend thinking of three things for which you are grateful. I have been keeping a gratitude journal for years, writing two things each day. I find that being grateful helps with my mindset by reminding me that it’s not all doom and gloom.
- Go for walks – As long as you are allowed to do this, get out there. You know how much I love it. More people are out walking. Don’t walk in groups unless it’s someone you live with. When passing people, I step out into the street if necessary, to maintain six feet distance, but I do exchange greetings. The most frequent one is, “stay healthy.”
- Play music – And dance to it if that’s your thing. I’m one of the rare people who doesn’t listen much to music, but everyone in my family finds it important to their well being. Spotify has a free limited service where there are thousands of hours of music and premium is no more than most music services. There are podcasts there too!
- Learn something new – So many things have become available for free online as a result of COVID19, including tours of famous museums, courses, books, and theatrical productions. You can’t travel, but you can go to these famous locations virtually and learn so much.
- Set aside time each day for a quiet period – I have been counting my walking as a quiet time, but I think I will add it specifically. There is so much noise out there, more than usual. Giving yourself some down time can be very beneficial.
- Never worry alone! We can quickly go from concern to depression when we are doing this alone. I posted on Facebook that I was becoming a hypochondriac thinking every little bodily change was a sign I had the virus, even though it quickly passed. It was amazing how many of my friends joined in to say it was happening to them, too. Saying it out loud and then laughing with others helped me get through it.
- Serve others – In addition to the two things I record in my gratitude journal each day, I also write down one way in which I give back. Giving back reminds me that making a contribution enriches the giver and the receiver. It makes me feel good about myself. Lots of funds and benefits have been set up online. Look for your favorite things to support and you’ll probably find a (safe) way.
These are unprecedented times. We will get it through it together. I am grateful to you, my blog readers, and the many librarians I consider my friends. Stay healthy.