The term Social Distancing has been thrown around as a protective measure against contracting COVID-19. Social distancing is a set of infection control actions intended to stop or slow down the spread of a contagious disease by limiting exposure to people. The CDC suggests limiting large groups of people coming together by closing buildings and cancelling events. For introverts, this is a dream come true!
As more churches, schools and businesses temporarily close, we are already seeing less cars on the road and people walking around outside. Many mental health advocates have already voiced their concerns of how social distancing may impact individuals with anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses. Distancing from friends and family will surely prevent the spread of illness but at what cost? Here are some wholesome tips for social distancing that will keep you healthy and happy.
Social distancing does not mean social isolation. Technology allows us to see and speak to people across great distances. If you find yourself feeling lonely, call a friend or relative to see how they’re doing! It’s important for us to check in on one another during these times of uncertainty, you can still be social without being physically present.
Limit your time on social media and the news. It is important to stay informed but obsessively checking for updates is not going to help calm stress and anxiety. Involve yourself in activities that will keep you away from your screen and allow you to exercise some creative energy. Pick up a pen and write, read a book, exercise at home or develop a new skill/hobby. Limiting your time on screens is proven to decrease stress and anxiety, let alone distancing yourself from the stressful news cycle and social media sharing spree.
But what is the most important thing you can do for your mental health right now? Go outside. I have said this to many people over the last week and I repeat myself once more: nature is not a crowded or confined space. Social distancing means putting space between yourself and other people, that does not mean strictly staying indoors. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the last bit of ice is melting away and spring is approaching. Getting out of the house and taking a short walk, hike or trip to the park is proven to have tremendous benefits on an individual’s mental health.
We are lucky to live in the Upper Valley where nature is abundant and there is incredible access to trails in all varieties. If you are looking for some new ways to explore the world around you, UVTA recommends Trail Finder: a free, online service with detailed maps to trails all over VT/NH. You can search by activity, length, town and the new interface is very intuitive.
None of us know how long COVID-19 will affect daily life but we can still engage in wholesome activities to keep ourselves healthy.
Written by Kaitie Eddington