The world is a very confusing place and it’s showing now more than ever. With all the closures and the cancellations, you might feel sad, angry, confused, helpless, and many other things.
In hopes to reduce the spread of the highly contagious virus COVID-19 that’s taken the world by storm, experts are saying we must practice “social distancing,” or the act of maintaining a certain distance between yourself and others and reducing the number of times you come into close contact with other people.
So far, the social distancing method has been effective. But many experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, say that social distancing can take a toll on your mental health.
The situation we’re in right now is very stressful. I’m sure many others like myself have so many questions and concerns that can’t be addressed because no one knows for sure what’s going to happen in the future or how long it will take for things to be normal again.
According to the CDC, stress caused by a disease outbreak can result in fear regarding the health of yourself and your loved ones, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, and even the worsening of chronic or mental illnesses. (Read more about the CDC’s recommendations on stress and coping here.) And the added stress and anxiety of not being able to hang out with your friends that you’re used to seeing on a daily basis can make you feel especially helpless.
However, practicing this type of distancing is a very important step we must take in hopes that things will be normal again.
But does this mean that you can’t see your friends and family at all? “Social distancing” sounds like isolation to me. It’s important that we don’t isolate ourselves because that can lead to falling into a self-destructive cycle that leaves a negative impact on overall mental health. The term “physical distancing” is much better. If people actually maintained a physical distance of six feet between themselves and others, it would be possible to be with your friends or family that doesn’t live in your household. What about picnicking in someone’s front yard (six feet apart of course) or parking your cars next to each other to talk but just putting the windows down.
It’s possible to physically be with our loved ones if we keep our distance. And I also believe that there’s a significant difference between video chatting with loved ones and chatting with loved ones in person.
Overall, we should follow the guidelines of the CDC because I want this to end as much as the next person. But we shouldn’t isolate ourselves because even during a worldwide pandemic, the state of our mental health is important.