By Penny Sitler, Executive Director
Staying Connected While Physically Distancing During Coronavirus
It’s ironic that I typically caution against being consumed by social media. Now we’re being told to “socially distance” so social media is being encouraged. I would like to re-frame that to say we’re physically distancing but staying connected socially and emotionally. As human beings, we crave and require connectivity. Because of COVID-19 we must maintain connections virtually, not through direct contact with other people. This is a stressful situation for all of us. Feeling stressed about the future is a normal reaction. Staying connected to others will help.
Isolation has been proven to be detrimental to our overall well-being so be sure to reach out to others who are alone, showing them that you care about how they’re doing. Ohio’s Director of Health, Dr. Amy Acton, urges us to assume that we and everyone in our homes have the virus. “Stay close and take care of your village.”
So how do we engage while keeping our distance? Virtual contact has become a popular way of connecting. I’ve had meetups using the Zoom platform with high school girlfriends, my card club and colleagues. We even played trivia virtually with a group who traditionally meets weekly at a local establishment. A cousin initiated a joke telling text thread, complete with videos of different family members sharing jokes they’ve heard. I’ve heard of families who are playing all kinds of games from euchre to Scrabble with their far-flung relatives. The options are many.
We’re still allowed to go outside and get some exercise, just maintain six feet of separation from people outside of your village. The bike/walking paths are numerous in our community and perfect places to get in steps while adhering to physical distancing. Stay away from playgrounds and other equipment where the virus can live for days. Don’t engage in contact sports. Exercise is an important protective factor, helping build our ability to handle the things in life that come at us that are out of our control. We call that resilience and we all need to be resilient to get through this difficult situation.
Compassion for our community is being elevated all around us. Our family chooses one cause each week to support, including the United Way of Licking County’s COVID-19 Relief Fund and several local endeavors that are important to us. The Advocate has a Support Local initiative to help raise funds for local businesses. Our community has come so far and so many people have invested in Licking County. To see their efforts dismantled by something out of their control is disheartening. Did you know that helping others has been proven to improve our mood, overall well-being and resilience? Studies show that when we think of others and participate in activities of kindness and compassion, we benefit as well. If we all give a little, it will go a long way toward a positive rebound locally when we get to whatever normal will look like.
Please do what you can to stay connected. Have a virtual conversation with a coworker, friend or relative that you haven’t talked to recently. There are lots of ways to connect via email, Facebook, Google or other platforms. Be sure to laugh and celebrate life’s moments. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need to connect and don’t have other options. I’m happy to help!
Printed in the Newark Advocate on April 5, 2020