One of the many buzzwords surrounding the COVID 19 pandemic is “social distancing”. Below we will discuss what exactly social distancing is, how long you are recommended to practice it, and what activities you can do in the meantime.
How do you practice social distancing?
Research shows that people are socially shaped. As a result, it can be difficult to practice the mere act of social distancing. Given conflicting information on social media and news agencies, it can be difficult to understand why it is important to practice social distancing.
In the following, we will help you to better understand the concept of social distancing and to deal better with this uncertain time in which we all find ourselves.
What is social distancing?
Lisa Maragakis M.D., M.P.H., senior director of infection prevention at John Hopkins Medicine, describes social distancing as “deliberately increasing the physical space between people to prevent disease from spreading”.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) states that COVID-19 is most likely to spread from person to person at a maximum distance of two meters. If you distance yourself from other people, the virus is less likely to spread.
Social distancing also helps “smooth” the curve, which means that it reduces the likelihood of hospitals and other healthcare providers infected with the virus. The hospitalization related to the COVID-19 pandemic has already overwhelmed other countries around the world, including Italy.
Practicing social distancing not only reduces the likelihood of infection, but also the impact of the disease on your local community.
Social distancing vs. Self quarantine vs. isolation
Social distancing, isolation and self-quarantine are often used interchangeably, but refer to three separate situations. Experts recommend that those who have been exposed to the virus but have shown no symptoms quarantine for at least 14 days. 14 days are considered the longest incubation period for the virus, so you have enough time to determine if symptoms are present.
Those diagnosed with COVID-19 are advised to isolate themselves from others who are not infected. When traveling (i.e. to a medical facility), sufferers are advised to wear a face mask to prevent infection of other people.
How long do we have to practice social distancing?
As of March 2020, the answer to this question is unclear.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, recommends that Americans continue social distance “at least a few weeks.”
A report by the Imperial College COVID-19 response team in London recommended practicing social distancing “until a vaccine is available (possibly 18 months or more)”.
President Donald Trump says the U.S. may have COVID-19 checked in July or August at the earliest.
A concrete end date for social distancing is not yet available, which is why many are asking themselves an important question: What should I do in the meantime?
Funny things to do while social distancing
Social distancing doesn’t have to overwhelm your life with boredom. Below is a list of five random, entertaining things you can do while you’re socially distant. This does not include scrolling on social media or watching a television program on Netflix.
1. Write a letter to a friend or family member
When was the last time you wrote a letter on a sheet of paper for DMs and text messages? Write a letter to a friend or family member to say thank you, remind them how much they need for you, or just because. You will surely appreciate it.
2nd Try a new recipe
With limited access to the grocery store, your meals can get very old and very quick. Use your favorite internet search engine to find a fun recipe that will add a unique touch to the ingredients you already have in your kitchen.
3rd To go for a walk
Just because you distance yourself socially doesn’t mean you can’t go outside. Take a walk in your neighborhood and get some fresh air. Listen to your favorite album, podcast or book while you’re on the go and time will go by. To minimize the possibility of contracting the virus, keep the recommended two meters away from other people.
4th Start a blog
Regardless of whether you want to write about entertainment, food or real estate, starting a blog gives you a platform to express yourself in a brand new way. Some of the most popular free blogging platforms are WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr and Wix.
5. Try meditation
From reducing stress to minimizing anxiety, meditation is one of the most beneficial ways to spend your free time. There are tons of free guided meditations on websites like YouTube and free smartphone apps like Insight Timer that you can try yourself. You can find meditations that are specifically designed to help you sleep, better treat your pain, and more.
Mental health and social distancing
The American Psychological Association reports that whether you distance yourself socially, isolate yourself, or quarantine yourself, this can affect your mental health. You may be more irritable, anxious, anxious, or sadder than normal.
Here are some ways you can better manage your mental health while practicing social distancing:
1. Take part in a virtual personal time with family and friends.
Fortunately, there are a variety of video chat apps that you can use to keep up with your loved ones. Some of the many available are Skype, FaceTime and Google Duo. Plan the time to check in and stay connected with your loved ones.
2nd Limit your intake of messages.
As the COVID-19 pandemic changes every day, it can be tempting to check the news at an obsessive rate. Excessive watching of the news can lead to stress and anxiety. If you can, stick to COVID-19 updates from credible sources like that CDC and the WHO (World Health Organization) instead.
3rd Prioritize self-care
In an unpredictable, scary situation, remember to prioritize self-care and do things that make you happy. If you’re crazy about losing your favorite public activities, try tweaking these hobbies so you can enjoy them at home. For example, if you like to go to concerts, watch old concerts by your favorite artist on YouTube. If you like going to museums, try a virtual tour of a museum. like this one from Seoul’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.
If you’re struggling with your mental health and need someone to talk to, here are some lifelines you can reach: the NAMI helpline, the SAMHSA National Helpline, and the National lifeline for suicide prevention.
What is your favorite social distancing activity?
When you practice social distancing, you help yourself, your loved ones, and your local community. Even if we are supposed to stay a meter apart, it does not mean that we cannot stay connected.
Do not be afraid to contact your surroundings for support. You probably have emotions similar to yours and would appreciate an open ear. When all of this is over, our community will hopefully get to the other side more than ever.
How do you deal with social distancing? What are you planning to do when it’s all over? Let us know your thoughts below!
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