Spring is upon us and warm weather is encouraging us all to come out of hibernation and spend time outside. While this is good, keeping busy while still practising social distancing can be a challenge. Even though COVID-19 cases are beginning to diminish in certain areas of the world, we are still asked to stay 6 feet apart from those not living in our household to ensure its continued decline.
Social distancing does not mean to cut yourself off from connections with other people. To be healthy and happy people need to stay active both mentally and physically while maintaining some degree of social connectivity. Humans are social creatures and loneliness can lead to mental and physical challenges including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and autoimmune disorders (Dolgin, 2020).
Those most at risk to be emotionally impacted include:
- Those between the ages of 16-24;
- Those with a history of psychiatric illness
- An only child; and
- Health care workers (Dolgin, 2020)
Tips on how to stay connected while social distancing:
To combat the potential emotional impacts there are several things you can do. Ideas include making social connection part of your daily routing by scheduling time for conservations with others. This can be in the form of a phone call, message, email, or video chat. Letting others know you’re struggling and being willing to be vulnerable can help strengthen relationships and give those close to you an opportunity to feel like they are accomplishing something important. Another idea is to be creative in how you meet your need for connection. For example, join a virtual community to discuss topics that interest you, host an online dinner party, games night or book club. Games could include greed (each household would only need 6 dice to participate), scavenger hunts, or trivia nights.
Other activity ideas that can be done while maintaining social distancing guidelines include:
- Hiking or walking;
- Small home renovations;
- Basic maintenance on your car or bike;
- Learn a new skill;
- Listen to new podcasts;
- Read a book;
- FaceTime a friend or family member;
- Write a letter or send an email to someone you care about;
- Make a time capsule or a record of some kind to document your experience during the pandemic;
- Exercise; and
- Spend time in nature
Taking time away from screens is essential and taking a break from what can be a negative stream of news reports is critical to maintaining good mental health.
Many people are mourning the loss of celebrations that typically occur this time of year. This may include birthdays, weddings, and graduations amongst others. By being creative we can celebrate the milestones in the lives of those we love while following government regulations. For example, in Beaumont, Alberta, drive-by birthday parades are being held for children. The following image shows the setup for a garden graduation party for two high school students in Southern Alberta. It was in the backyard of one of the grads and only included 7 people. It may not be typical of a graduation party, but was still very appreciated and a lot of fun
Remember that because some restrictions are being lifted some of the items on the list can be done with others if you continue to adhere to proper social distancing guidelines. Always check the regulations in your area by looking at your government website.
COVID-19: Mental Health
What are other tips we could talk about? Leave a comment below and let us know.