Being without social contact is bad for your health. But but but: COVID-19 is deadly. Is it possible to meet in the middle, figuratively speaking? To get your social fix without putting yourself or your friends in danger?
Social distancing has become a mantra as societies scramble for ways to contain the virus. Ironically, the term has gotten in the way of actual social contact when it’s really intended just to remind us all to stay six feet from others so that the virus is unlikely to be transferred. It doesn’t mean avoid everyone, in all ways.
Think “Physical Distancing” Instead
While you’re trying to protect your health, you may accidentally be damaging it if you’re isolating yourself from the people you love. Shift your mindset a bit, to physical rather than social distancing, says Psychology Today, and then refocus on the good stuff of connection. You can do a lot with a couple yards between you. For instance:
- Meet a friend for a walk (stay side by side—and apart—rather than lined up so that one person is walking into the other’s breaths)
- Have bring-your-own happy hour and snacks in the yard—no sharing!
- Jump online for a virtual class, meet-up with friends, or to take in a performance
- Write letters—yes, old-fashioned, put ’em in the mail letters in your own handwriting
- Read a poem or sing a song to someone you miss
Whatever you can dream up (and don’t we all have a lot more time for dreaming lately?) to stay in touch while maintaining physical distance can improve your outlook and even your physical health.
Maintain Other Safety Practices
This is no time to get cavalier about the safety practices the CDC recommends to keep yourself and others safe. Yes, social contact is important, but only if you you’re going about it with your safety in mind.
Forget the hugs and handshakes. Keep a safe distance. Wash your hands every time you think of it, and then wash them again. It’s also a good idea to wear a mask when you go out into spaces, like the grocery store, where you have very little control over how close you come to others. And, of course: If you have symptoms or know you’ve been in contact with someone who has the virus, you do need to isolate. Even then, video chats are perfectly safe social contact! Do what you can to keep in touch.