Social distancing can be difficult to manage. These are some ways to make the whole experience a little less isolating and a little more social.
The words “quarantine” and “social distancing” probably didn’t mean much to you as 2020 rolled in, but now, maintaining safe, hygienic spaces that help limit the spread of the coronavirus is just a part of our lives.
Here are 10 ways to make social distancing a little less isolating and a little more friendly!
1. Set – and stick to – a routine.
We advise all our newly retired clients to set a schedule that will give retirement a little bit of structure. Doing so keeps new retirees active and engaged as they explore new ways to fill time without their 9 to 5s.
It also helps keep retired spouses from driving each other crazy!
Whether you’re retired or not, you’re going to need to rethink how you spend your days for the foreseeable future, especially if you’re working from home or still have kids in the house who need help with school.
If you’re struggling to work out a schedule, we can walk you through some of our Retirement Coaching exercises to help you and your family see and plan a productive week.
2. Get yourself outside.
So far the government hasn’t put restrictions on getting some fresh air. Sitting in the backyard, firing up the grill, or throwing a ball around can help you and any family you’re isolated with get the blood pumping and feel a little more normal.
Depending on social distancing guidelines in your community, you’re probably allowed to walk, jog, or bike through your neighborhood or a park as well. Just remember to keep a six-foot buffer between you and other folks and avoid touching surfaces like fences and playgrounds.
Another idea: driveway block parties! Some folks are setting up chairs in their driveways to say hi – or shout hi – to neighbors without getting within six feet of each other.
Remember, the coronavirus situation is different state to state and even town to town. Check with your local health department for the latest social distancing guidelines.
3. Enjoy some facetime on the app FaceTime.
Services like FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, and GotoMeeting can host group video chats. Many folks have started hosting weekly “fam jams” to connect with friends and family across the country. Your group can even use these services to play games, watch movies, or listen to music together.
As you’re working on a new routine, consider scheduling your own weekly “fam jam.” And if you have older friends and family members who live alone, use whatever tech they’re comfortable with to check in as often as you can. Social distancing is going to be especially hard on folks who might feel isolated to begin with.
Did you ever think you’d miss office chit-chat or a friendly barista this much? Social distancing has turned even our most casual connections into long-distance relationships, and that’s been a hard adjustment for some folks.
You’ve probably started organizing weekly video calls with your friends and family. Supplementing those big calls with quick text messages or funny emails can make those connections feel more integrated into your life, even in isolation.
However, experts warn that too much video chatting and social media can have the adverse effect of driving up anxiety. If you feel your stress mounting, unplug. Play games with the friends and family you’re locked down with. Cook a meal with your spouse. Block off some solo time to read, take an online course, or practice your hobbies.
Also, try to embrace a little boredom from time to time. In our always-on, always-connected society, we feel like we should always be doing something, always be watching something, always be messaging someone. A quiet moment alone with a cup of coffee, letting your mind wander, can lead to inspiring ideas, a problem-solving breakthrough, or the inner peace Facebook just isn’t delivering that day.
4. Be selective about who you listen to.
Yes, it’s important to stay informed. But if you spend too much of your day glued to anxious social media and news feeds, you’re just going to get more anxious yourself.
Instead, click or swipe over to some of the remarkable ways that folks are connecting, educating, and entertaining online. Many libraries, magazines, museums, and news organizations have lifted their digital paywalls. Artists are offering free online instruction in painting and drawing. Gyms and yoga studios are organizing online exercise groups. Musicians are performing online concerts. World-famous chefs are offering cooking classes. Actors and actresses are reading animated books to children.
These might not be ideal circumstances, but with so many big-hearted pros sharing their skills online, for free, this is a great time to explore a new hobby or dig a little deeper into a topic that interests you.
5. Perform random acts of kindness.
There’s power in putting goodwill out into the world. And right now, we could all use some!
In your own home, something as simple as cooking a nice meal for your stressed-out spouse or performing a chore that’s not usually on your to-do list could go a long way toward keeping things upbeat. You might even decide to tackle a cleaning, painting, or reorganizing project together that will freshen up your home.
As for the loved ones you aren’t isolated with, think of little ways to show you care. Commit to those weekly “fam jam” calls. Mail a pie from your local bakery. Send a greeting card or handwritten letter. Check in on your neighbors, especially the elderly or infirmed, and see if there’s anything you can do to help without breaching safe social distancing.
6. Don't forget about your community!
Your community could benefit from some kindness as well. Small businesses, restaurants, and artists are really hurting right now. Buying gift cards, merchandise, and to-go meals can help these businesses stay operational and keep a few more people working. If you’re a Sunday newspaper reader, consider subscribing daily to support the folks who are getting you vital information. That singer you saw in your local café can’t perform live right now, but she probably has an album you can buy online.
7. Start practicing Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is kind of like going to the gym, but for your mind. Sometimes we get caught up in anxious thoughts, and feeling overwhelmed, but we don’t ever take a moment to stop that negative cycle.
There are tons of mindful activities that you can do alone or with family – they might seem boring at first, but it’s giving your mind a proper break. Some examples of mindfulness activities are coloring (yes, adult coloring books are a thing!), deep breathing, gentle stretching, repeating positive statements, and listening to music. The skills you gain from mindfulness can also benefit other areas of your life, making you calmer and more centered. To learn more, click here.
8. Movement can help with feelings of isolation.
Depending on social distancing guidelines in your state, you can probably still go outside for walks and jogs. Just try to keep yourself out of those beachfront group shots that are riling people up on social media. Maintain a six-foot bubble, avoid crowded areas, don’t touch fences or other public structures, and wash your hands when you get home.
If you’re really missing your gym fix, there are a wealth of at-home exercise options available. Many trainers and fitness experts are offering free online classes, which gives you a chance to stay fit and try something new risk-free. It might also be time to dust off that treadmill or stationary bike in the basement to mix up your Netflix or podcast routine.
Just don’t think that because you’re stuck at home or don’t have a Peloton you can’t stay healthy. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently posted, “I started my own fitness journey with chin-ups on a tree branch by a lake in Austria” and shared his “no gym required” workout. Old standbys like push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, and running in place can still give your body what it needs.
9. Explore the world... online!
Not knowing how long we’ll have to live with social distancing can make it difficult to think about your life outside of your house and beyond the coronavirus. So much of our attention is focused on what’s happening right now and what we need to get through the next day.
But you will get through today, and the next one. And eventually, we’ll all be back outside, heading to the office, sending our kids to school, spending real face time with friends and family, working towards the goals that are most important to us.
Try to carve out a little time every day to think about those long-term goals that are hard to see right now. What’s something you can do every day to move the needle? Can you devote ten minutes to that side project you want to present at work? Can you write more? Paint more? Cook something a little fancier? Be a little more involved in helping you kids exceed at school?
You can still do things as before, here are some resources that you can enjoy from home:
- Enjoy the Zoo? Check out the live cams at San Diego Zoo.
- Is art more up your alley? The National Gallery of Art has some great virtual tours.
- How about going to visit Chile? A nonprofit called Imagen de Chile has a free app called Chile 360, where you can discover Chile and Easter Island.
10. Reflect on the bigger picture and how your goals might shift.
Big-picture thinking can also help you maintain proper perspective about your long-term financial goals your plan is designed to achieve. However, we understand those goals seem especially far away under these circumstances.
Best tips for focusing on the bigger picture?
- Don't sweat the small stuff. Breathe, consider what needs to be done now and what can wait. You'll probably find that a lot can wait.
- Stop seeking perfection. Detail is great, but sometimes it can result in missed larger opportunities.
- Try to delegate. Do you need to do everything yourself? If you're feeling overwhelmed with it all, try to consider; are there things that your coworker, friend, family member, or children can do to help you?
For our part, we plan to keep our usual channels of communication wide open. We’ll keep in touch with emails, blog posts, and podcasts to share information that we hope helps you cope with social distancing and the other challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. And if there’s any questions you need answered please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
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