The world is an interesting place right now. For the first time in many people’s lives, we’re facing a viral pandemic that changes the way we interact with those around us. While many of the things we should be doing — washing our hands, avoiding touching our faces, and practicing social distancing — might seem like common sense, it’s having an unintended side effect: social isolation.
As a society, we’re becoming more isolated. In the short term, that will help keep people healthy and hopefully slow the spread of COVID-19. In the long run, it could have as many negative consequences as the virus itself. As we live in uncertain times, what can you do to stay healthy and connected in the coming weeks and months?
It’s Not Just About Physical Health
While you might be worried about whether or not you’ll catch COVID-19 and how you’ll manage when you do, there is one crucial thing to remember. While physical health is essential, it’s not the only thing you need to worry about in today’s ever-changing climate. You need to take care of your mental health as well. We’re drowning in information, and most of it isn’t being presented as objectively as it could be, which only serves to increase the growing sense of fear that we’re experiencing.
Remember that mental health is just as important as physical. Do whatever you need to do to preserve your sense of well-being, whether that means having groceries delivered or staying inside and taking a bubble bath.
Self-care is a term that’s become popular in recent years to prioritize addressing your needs before you spend your energies on others. Now, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself, so make it a point to practice self-care.
What you choose to do is entirely up to you. It could mean cooking gourmet meals, even if they’re just for yourself. You could take up a creative outlet like writing, painting, art, or dance while you’re stuck at home. Create new things and share them with the world as a way to let your light shine a little brighter through all this darkness.
Limit Your News Consumption
There is a lot of news out there, and not all of it is accurate. Indeed, many articles are being slammed for fear-mongering and being designed to insight panic. It’s not surprising that people are afraid and panic-buying things like toilet paper that they don’t need. While staying informed is important because things are changing every day, it’s easy to get swallowed up in all the news and information we’re surrounded by daily.
Make it a point to limit your news consumption. Don’t rely on sites that are coloring articles with their opinions. Instead, get the information you need to stay safe and healthy from government and state websites and limit any time you spend on other pages.
Plan Virtual Get-Togethers
Just because we’re not supposed to get together in the real world doesn’t mean we can’t still hang out in cyberspace. There are dozens of tools to help you plan virtual get-togethers, from Discord and Zoom to Google Hangouts and many others. All you need is a laptop or phone that’s connected to the internet.
You can watch movies, have conversations, play board games and get together without having to leave your home or your self-isolation. Plus, if you’ve got friends around the world, they can join in on the fun, too. Staying connected during a pandemic will ease the loneliness many may feel at this time.
Reach Out to Friends, Family and Community
You’re not the only one who might need a little bit of help and reassurance during this trying time. While the CDC might be telling us to avoid going out in public, that doesn’t mean you have to cut off all contact from those around you completely. Don’t be afraid to stretch out a hand — real or virtual — to those that might need it.
A lack of physical contact due to fear will be one of the most challenging parts of this pandemic. Touch is a vital part of our well-being. Even a hug or a handshake can release oxytocin, the hormone that helps calm you during stressful situations like the one we’re living in now. Don’t put yourself at risk, but if someone in your household feels the stress of these situations, don’t hesitate to reach out and help them feel a little bit better.
Don’t Panic — We Will Get Through This
The most important thing we can do right now to stay healthy and connected is not to panic. We will get through this. It will throw a wrench in our plans for a few weeks or months, but if we take steps to stay connected and healthy, eventually, this will be an unhappy memory.