Social Distancing Vs. Social Isolation

As we move into another month of social distancing and sheltering in place during this healthcare crisis, we face many  challenges. Currently, there is no vaccine to the Corona Virus and the only way to protect ourselves and others is to create distance between ourselves. Several months ago, it was unfathomable for all of us to imagine that we would be sheltered in our homes, isolated from others along with major disruptions to our daily routines for weeks at a time. We know that social contact and touch are fundamental needs to our emotional, mental and physical health. We suffer immensely when our social contact is constricted and limited. There have been numerous studies that have shown that the lack of social contact and isolation are risk factors for depression and anxiety. Loneliness is an emotional state of feeling separated and alone. The elderly and individuals with mental illness are particularly vulnerable to loneliness. We all need to stay connected and helpful to each other through this pandemic.

So, while we are required to maintain social distancing from others, how do we avoid isolation and loneliness:

  1. Reach out to others regularly through telephone calls, emails and participating in healthy chat rooms.
  2. Consider using Skype, Zoom or other audio/video platforms to have consistent virtual gatherings with groups of friends and family members.
  3. Get outside and move, while maintaining the appropriate social distancing. Say hello and great others. Make those connections with others through waves, eye contact, smiles, and kind words. Everyone needs a smile and acknowledgment.
  4. Verbalize to our close family members and friends our loneliness and any negative thoughts we are experiencing during these frightful times.
  5. Exercise and move around outside. Depression and anxiety have a hard time hitting a moving object. Exercise releases all those good feel chemicals in our bodies. Being outside allows us to feel the warmth of the sun and get health benefits from direct sunshine and light.
  6. If you find yourself becoming more depressed and anxious after trying some of the above suggestions or other techniques, consider using telemedicine with a licensed counselor. Also, visit my blog for resources and other helpful information.

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