Tips to Thrive – or at Least Survive – Social Distancing

I hit a wall this weekend, as the two-week milestone of our family’s social distancing efforts came and went.

I was surprised, somehow, to find myself so out of sorts, because up until this weekend I had been handling the challenge of social distancing pretty well.

It occurred to me that part of my downfall came when I started ignoring the practices I put in place initially to survive – if not thrive – during this time.

I started to get really fixated on the idea that I don’t know when this thing will end – or what a “successful” end to this might look like. I read way too much and talked way too much about various outcomes – including many that sound downright catastrophic.

Photo by Alena Koval on Pexels.com

So today, I want to remind myself of the commitments that got me to the two-week mark. Maybe they will help you in some small way, too.

  1. 1. Get moving every single day. Even in “normal” times, I recognize my mindset is best when I get some form of exercise – preferably outdoors. Some people I know are using this time to push themselves to new levels physically. I’m not one of those people. For me, this feels like a time to be kind to myself, while still moving. That means about 30 minutes to an hour of gentle exercise, like walking and stretching, every day.
  2. Schedule some fun. Working from home, it is easy to have the boundaries between work and home blur. I can easily look up and realize that I have spent the entire day working. Some days, this may be OK – as long as the work feels enjoyable and the people around me have what they need, too. But other days, I need to make sure I plan some fun to avoid feeling frazzled. This week, we have a family bucket list of activities to help ensure we have some fun. These aren’t especially elaborate, and include: cook a meal together, allow a different family member to select the music each night, play Sorry Sliders, and re-watch a family favorite, the movie Up.
  3. Make some phone dates – possibly with video on. I have not been as good at this as I should. I have connected with a few friends by phone, though, and find that when I do, I feel better not just about where I am now, but about the life I will (eventually, Lord willing) return to. I often feel I don’t have as much time as I’d like for friendship. Right now, I do. I need to prioritize that. One thing I know I want to do is look back on this time and feel it was well spent.
  4. Follow the Power of Three rule. I am stealing this one from my church, where I have been challenged to reach out to three people each day – by a phone call, text, note, etc. This is a practice I want to strenghten now, and carry into my day-to-day life even after social distancing ends. It strikes me that if I reached out to three people a day, in a year that would be 1,095 contacts. This is a legacy of connection I would like to leave behind …..
  5. Be Proactive, then Leave it Alone. I have always prided myself on seeing things coming and adjusting accordingly. It’s one reason I left the full-time newspaper business in 2001 – I saw the implications of how the Internet was changing daily print journalism, and I didn’t like what I saw. It’s important to be smart and to avoid being blind-sided by things as much as possible. But right now, if we are honest, all bets are off on what our lives will look like six months or a year from now. I – individually and through the company where I work – am continuing to do some things that seem proactive to me. I am working hard to pivot – possibly in multiple directions at the same time. But beyond that, obsessing over what might happen next isn’t going to be very helpful. And the truth is, even the most insightful among us can’t predict where any of this is going.

On this Monday morning – starting week three of social distancing, things are feeling a little more manageable. I have many questions – and could easily spiral if I wasn’t intentional in how I am spending my time and energy.

Hang in there, friends. Do what you can today to feel good about how you are spending your time and your mental energy.

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