Social Distancing, what is it?

Social Distancing is keeping yourself and your family away from large crowds of people. Avoiding areas where crowds may appear in upwards of 50+ people. The current suggestion is to limit the exposure to 10 people or less if you have to go out and run errands. And then, if you do have to go out try to keep at least 6 ft between you and the other people around you. Which let’s face it is hard to do, especially if you are waiting in line at the grocery store to get toilet paper or even meat, both of which are in super high demand at the moment and most stores cannot keep up with that demand. Shelves everywhere have begun to become bare and many products are in short supply.

What does social distancing do for us and those around us?

It limits the potential for exposure to people who may not know they are symptomatic with Covid-19. These asymptomatic people do not know they are carrying what is essentially a time bomb within them, waiting to either infect them or those around them. When they are asymptomatic, these people do not know they have been exposed or even that they may potentially be infected. Why is this? Because they show no signs of being sick, no signs of the virus at all in this stage, making them the perfect carriers for spreading it to other people.

Now with that being said, this is why they have told us to practice social distancing. Because you do not know if the person who seemed healthy was actually healthy or had/has been in contact with someone who is not. Since the incubation period for Covid-19 is 4-14 days before the first symptoms show up it is hard to tell who may have infected someone or not. There is a huge amount of people you could come into contact with in that time frame.

If you stop to think about it. All those people you have come in contact with in a two week period, according to the data they have released, out of those people the odds you come into contact with someone who is carrying the virus is 2:2.5 see the image below for more data:

Now looking at they data above you can see where that rate of infection puts not only yourself at risk when you go out, but it also puts people at risk who you may love and care about too. For instance, should you go out and spend the entire day running about town, then go over over to your grandparent’s house, you have now put them at risk too. Or if you go run errands, go out to eat, and go shopping, then go to see someone who has just had a newborn baby, you are now putting that infant at risk.

Social distancing isn’t to punish you, despite what some people may think. No, it is to limit further cases from emerging. It you practice the proper suggestions for social distancing, you can be part of the answer and not part of the problem at hand.

Here are some helpful do’s and don’ts of Social Distancing

Does this mean you cannot go to the grocery store or shop at all? No, what it means is when you do these things you need to be aware of those around you and the environment as a whole. Try to avoid high traffic times at the stores. Go when you need to and not daily, limit the amount of time you are in the stores. Wipe down the carts with anti-bacterial wipes or cleansing wipes to reduce contact with the plastic and metal of carts or baskets that you touch. Wash your hands as soon as you get home and do not touch your face, mouth, eyes or nose before washing your hands for 20 seconds or more.

Can Social Distancing take a toll on your mental health?

The short answer to this is yes, it can be stressful for even the most well adjusted of us. Isolation of any kind can take its toll on us, we as humans tend to be social creatures, even introverts want to connect with people sometimes. We need to be able to talk to one another and be connected on some level with others. So when we take that into account, pulling away even more than say we have ever in our life times, that can take a lot out of everyone and anyone.

Any “isolation is so devastating to our own mood because we’re left stuck with our own thoughts,” said Emily Roberts, a Manhattan-based psychotherapist. “If you’re struggling with a mental health disease, if you are relying on therapy which requires you getting out of your house, it’s going to be very hard to motivate yourself to get the help you need. The fact that there’s so much of an urgency to disconnect creates a lot of fear with people. The potential side effect of the crisis is something mental health professionals are scrambling to address amid the uncertainty of COVID-19, especially as health resources are diverted to the most immediate concerns. The scale of those concerns in turn is precisely what makes this time an unprecedented stressor for even the most well adjusted among us.

What You Can Do: Tips deal with the stress of social distancing

Acknowledge what’s happening, and that it’s stressful. Because it is. “Denial is a remarkably adaptive skill,” says Dr. Kaplin.

Stay connected. Social distancing does not mean social isolation. You can still FaceTime, call, text, have a Zoom happy hour with your friends.

Do benefit finding. “Looking for the good is an important strategy,” says Dr. Julie Kolzet, Ph.D., and a licensed psychologist in NYC (who also sees patients remotely). An example would be if you’re working from home, maybe you have more autonomy now.

Try breathing exercises. Mindful breathing where you match your in breath with your out breath and focus on scanning your body is calming. You don’t have to spend 20 minutes, even three minutes will help.

Be kind. It doesn’t just benefit someone else; you reap the rewards too. According to research, when you do something nice for someone else, your brain’s pleasure and reward centers light up. It’s called the “helper’s high.”

Share something good. Even if it’s something small or mundane, like a funny meme or cute picture. Letting someone else in on it, amplifies the good feelings you got from it.

Change your expectations. You add to your own stress levels by creating goals that are unrealistic. “Be easy on yourself,” advises Dr. Kolzet. “It’s not an easy time. Do what you can.” Dr Kaplin agrees. “Our culture doesn’t believe in giving people time to recover and react,” he explains.

Manage your news intake. It is way too easy to get sucked into press conference after press conference and then to check for updates on websites or to obsessively check in on the number of confirmed cases in your state. Being informed doesn’t require you to act like you’re a newsroom producer. It’s okay to set a few times a day where you’ll check in for updates. And, stick to reliable news outlets. Rumors spread quickly and feed into the panic

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