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Maintaining Well-Being During Social Distancing

Natalie Stein
March 17, 2020
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The coronavirus pandemic is occupying all the top headlines. Stories are covering developments of the COVID-19 outbreak including national and international responses, as well as how the virus can affect individuals and how to prepare for its possible arrival in communities nearby. 

Social distancing is one of the strategies thought to slow the spread of COVID-19. What, though, does “social distancing” really mean? Does it apply to you, and how do you participate? 

Everything can seem confusing during this topsy-turvy, confusing time, but something to keep in mind is that regardless of how backwards things may feel, your health still comes first. Lark can help you continue to make healthy lifestyle choices, such as eating well and being physically active. It can also be important to stay engaged to avoid feeling isolated or depressed.

What Is Social Distancing?


Many people are choosing to participate in social distancing, and some states and local authorities are establishing guidelines for reducing gatherings. You may have heard about it on the news. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 

The CDC has been warning that person-to-person transmission of the virus can occur when people are less than 6 feet apart [1], and social distancing helps keep people at least that far apart. As of March 15, the CDC recommended that “for the next 8 weeks, organizers … cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.”[2]

Some people are voluntarily staying home as much as possible. In addition, authorities are recommending or enforcing decreased interactions. For example, the CDC recommends that events with more than 50 people be canceled, and the city of Hoboken, New Jersey, started a curfew on March 16. On March 15, California Governor Gavin Newsom closed bars, reduced restaurant capacities, and suggested that adults over 65 years and with existing health conditions stay inside. On March 16, San Francisco decided to shelter in place.

Flying Solo in “Group” Workouts


Working out in groups can be motivating, challenging, and fun, but it is impossible to guarantee the ability to maintain a 6-foot distance in a gym or fitness center where you might normally work out on machines or in group fitness classes. Still, working out during this time of stress can help you stay healthy physically and emotionally.

Still, there are other ways to get moving with others to stay accountable and help the time pass more quickly. These are some tips.

  • Workout buddies can still be possible if you set a mutual time to walk and talk on the phone with each other as you walk, separately, each in your own neighborhood or park.
  • Many classes are available online. Some are even streamed in real time so you can follow along at home while the instructor is talking to you. Necessary equipment may include good shoes, weights, and/or exercise bikes, for example.
  • Many personal trainers can work with you live through video chat so you can have two-way communication during the workout. Trainers can still correct form and listen to your feedback during the workout.

Lark can help you keep track of your activity so you can be sure to keep getting it in even while life changes compared to the usual routine.

Working from Home


Many employers are encouraging employees to work from home as much as possible during this time. This may not be possible for many industries and jobs, such as cleaning, car repairs, and other service jobs, but it is an option for many. Working from home can actually boost productivity, but for some, it can lead to feelings of isolation.

These tips may help people who are working from home for the first time.

  • Using video chats and instant message systems can help coworkers continue to feel connected. 
  • Setting aside a specific “office space” in your home, even if it is not a true office, can set the tone for a workday and reduce distractions in the home.
  • It is best to let family members or anyone else who is nearby know expectations for how much noise they can make and what to expect.

During this particular time, if you are working from home because of COVID-19, there may be additional challenges for reasons such as children being home from school or needing to take care of or shop for an elderly parent or friend. Communication with bosses and colleagues is key.

Entertainment


What do you do when bars are closed, there are no more concerts, amusement parks are closed, and producers are no longer even filming television programs? You can do something else…many other things! Here are just a few options.

  • Clean your house. This is a good time to be clean anyway to fight germs.
  • Tidy up and clear out old clothes and anything else you do not need.
  • Visit a museum, virtually. Google has partnered with the New York Museum of Modern Art, and the Louvre has its own virtual tour [3].
  • Travel the world. The Great Wall of China is at your fingertips, virtually.
  • Read a book.
  • Try new recipes.
  • Reconnect with friends via social media, email, phone calls, or video calls.
  • Join an online book club or start your own with friends.
  • Teach your children something and ask them to teach you something.
  • Catch up on old TV shows.
  • Plan a trip for when traveling is easier because this will pass eventually!

This can be a good time to think about attitude. Just like eating healthy, when it helps to think about what you can eat instead of what you should not, it helps to think about what you can do rather than what you cannot. For example, how many years have you been waiting to refinish a cabinet or clean out a closet, but you never had time?

Religious events


Whether you visit a house of worship only on holidays or once a week for services, or your church, synagogue, or mosque is a second home, losing the ability to worship, volunteer, or socialize in person can create an empty feeling. If your local religious home is closed for in-person visits, there may be the option of “attending” services with your own pastor, rabbi, or religious leader, through online broadcasts. 

Online resources can still help continue to foster a sense of community, if not normalcy. For example, churches and synagogues can set up online sites for donations instead of in-person ones. Congregation members can use video chats to hold their usual social gatherings, such as having coffee and chatting, or each making quilts or putting together bags of food to donate to food pantries.

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Healthy Lifestyle


Your mind and body still need nourishment, love, and care. Now more than ever, using Lark may help you stay healthy and strong for yourself and for others. Though groceries may be harder to procure and you may need to change your eating habits a bit, keeping it as nutritious as possible will support your immune system. 

In addition, these are some ways to stay active at home or during the restrictions.

  • Walking, hiking, jogging, or running.
  • Doing exercise videos with weights or for aerobics.
  • Dancing to songs on the radio.
  • Playing tag with your kids.

Lark can also coach you on getting good sleep and on managing stress so you can make smart decisions as life changes daily.

Social distancing can be a shock and challenging, but it is temporary. There will be an “after” when crowds are allowed and hand sanitizer and toilet paper are back on the shelves. Until then, keeping yourself happy and healthy, and doing your part for the community around you, can be important goals. Lark is there to help.

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How it spreads. March 4, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/transmission.html
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Get Your Mass Gatherings or Large Community Events Ready. March 14, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/large-events/mass-gatherings-ready-for-covid-19.html
  3. https://news.yahoo.com/social-distancing-six-virtual-tours-182950971.html
Author
Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Assistant Professor of Public Health