We are social creatures by nature, and human interaction is essential to our wellbeing. In the midst of the recent global pandemic related to COVID-19, national governments and local authorities are requesting everyone to isolate and practice social distancing. However, this isn’t an easy task, and for some it could be mentally exhausting. Social distancing doesn’t come naturally to our species, but it’s being strongly urged to help stop the spread of the virus. While researchers don’t know much about the social and physical effects of short-term distancing, scientists and researchers are discovering the psychological impacts this new world order is having on humans.
At Brain Forest Centers, we understand that social distancing can be a challenge for many of our patients, especially those who may rely on family members for care and companionship. Individuals of all ages are being affected, and the long-term effects are yet to be determined. In the meantime, here are some useful tips to help you navigate your mental and social health during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Four Ways to Combat the Effects of Social Distancing
Utilize Virtual Chats
Social distancing doesn’t mean you have to isolate yourself from everyone and everything completely. Thanks to high-speed internet access and the use of smart devices, family members can still hold virtual gatherings without leaving the couch. This may seem uncomfortable or odd, especially for the elderly, but it’s one of the best ways to stay engaged with friends and family while self-quarantining.
Virtual chat rooms and platforms like Zoom and Google Hangouts are also being widely used for those who are now working from home. If you’re used to being in a communal office with all of your co-workers and friends, suddenly being cooped up indoors can feel more like a punishment. To stay connected and to ensure businesses continue to operate as smoothly as possible, use these platforms to engage and see one another during normal business hours.
Check on Your Neighbors
Just as you would with your friends and family, check in your neighbors. Now is the time to make sure we take care of each other, and you can start by knocking on the door or picking up the phone to see if they need anything. By helping your neighbors or those in your community, you not only improve the lives of those less fortunate, but you also support your own well-being. There’s research to suggest that giving is not just for the recipient, it’s also for the giver.
One of the best ways to stay engaged with your neighbors and help people around you is to see if they need anything at the store. If you know you’re planning a trip in search of toilet paper or other essential items, ask around to see if anyone needs anything, especially those you know with underlying health conditions or the elderly. By putting yourself out there to help in small ways, you combat the feeling of isolation while still practicing social distancing.
If you’re feeling the panic around you, it’s hard not to get caught up in the same feelings and act impulsively. Stress and anxiety can make you feel overwhelmed and isolated even more. According to Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a psychologist at Brigham Young University, “Just knowing that you have someone you can count on if needed, is enough to dampen some of those responses, even if [that person is] not physical present.”
Without the usual access to friendly faces and human touch to help us combat stress, it’s essential to your well-being to remind yourself to stay calm. We’re all in this together and no one is alone, or has to be, when we remember to take care of one another. With more time spent at home, you might find that a 10-20-minute exercise or meditation session can help you battle going stir crazy and even depression or states of anxiety and panic.
Keep Your Same Routine
While transitioning from your corporate office to your home office can feel like a mini vacation, it’s very easy to slip into a daily routine without much structure, which can cause anxiety and unnecessary stress. To combat this effect of social distancing because of COVID-19, stick to your same routine. Get up at the same time during the week, shower, and dress as if you were getting ready for work. Not only will you be presentable for that unexpected virtual meeting, but you’ll also keep your mind and body on the same schedule it’s used to. You can stay more focused while working from home when you stick to your usual routine. Keeping the same routine is also essential for those with children, and keeping them structured will help mitigate disruptions to their daily lives.
Nurture Your Mental Health
Dealing with new stressors and anxieties that are associated with limited human contact and isolation during these coming days and weeks will be a challenge for many. At Brain Forest Centers, we encourage all of our superheroes to continue working on their mental health and to give us a call if they find these sudden social changes too much to handle. We can help retrain the brain and get you back to a normal and balanced state, even in the middle of a global pandemic. To get started, contact us at (317) 288-9828.