Travel bans, school and university closings, events cancellations, communities shutting down, suspension of support groups and volunteering services…every day another “social distancing” precaution floods my inbox. Is it a necessary precaution? As much as I dislike it, I believe it is, but what about its shadows? We thrive on social contact, and we depend on social services. Children at school, parents at work, networking at events, hanging out with friends, finding comfort in your support groups, meeting new people, being out there and not home alone. To me, the distancing carries with it a sadness, loneliness, and the risk of closing yourself off even more, spiraling down as your support network seems to fade away.
How long can we go before it gets to us? Working from home is convenient, but how long before you miss the interactions with your co-workers? What to do with your kids, if you can’t work from home, but the schools are closed? How to feed your kids if they depend on having their lunch at school? What about businesses that rely on personal interactions with their clients? What if people can no longer come to you? How long can you deal with less income? More importantly, how do you deal with the worry, stress, and uncertainty? How do you feel about not being able to see your family, friends, or partner? Not all of us are living close. Not all of us have a strong support network. Not all of us are comfortable asking for help. What if your weekly support group meetings are suspended? How long before the loneliness gives space to old habits coming back?
These are all valid questions and concerns. I’m putting them out there, so we understand that they exist, and it is okay that they exist. I’m sure there are more. Of course, we all hope that the precautions are only temporary, and I do believe they are. But at the moment we don’t know what temporary means. At the moment, temporary means that we do have to deal with these consequences, worries, and fears. Every new email disheartens me, makes me feel less connected and a bit more isolated.
So let’s shift this trajectory because I don’t like it. I don't like it at all. Let’s not go down the rabbit hole. Let’s look at the bright side; look at what you can do to make the shadows brighter; for yourself and all of us. Start by sharing and telling others how you feel about this. It is okay to express your feelings. Let’s not wait this one out in your dungeon, literally and metaphorically speaking. Reach out to your family and friends. Meet up with them if you can. Hug them, if they tested negative - just kidding, hug them!! Reach out to your community. Ask for support. Ask for alternatives. Let’s not forget that thankfully, we are all connected online, and we can use this to stay connected. Let’s be creative. Many businesses and social organizers have already started moving events online, so be on the lookout for those events. Share them on social media. Check in with your friends and let them know that you are there for them. Check in with your community and ask how you can help. More than anything else, check in with yourself and remember to be kind.
How is all of this affecting you? Share your feelings below and maybe a roll of toilet paper with your neighbor.