We’re living in unprecedented times. Turn on the TV, read through this newspaper, or just talk to a friend or family member and you will likely be exposed to news of the coronavirus pandemic making its way throughout our country and the entire world.

We’re told we need to practice “social distancing.” We’re told to stay home and not gather in groups of 10 or more. These instructions are important to adhere to, as they’re crucial in stopping the spread of the coronavirus, but what’s safe for us physically right now can take a big toll mentally.

We’re social creatures, particularly in hard times. Even the most introverted of us needs interaction, craves love, relies on affection. We’re not well equipped to be inside and away from the people we love, but that’s what we’re being called on to do right now. So I spent some time online researching what experts advise to keep us sane during this time. Here are five pieces of advice I found and wanted to pass along.

STAY CONNECTED

Just because we may not be able to see our friends or family in person doesn’t mean we can’t get support, and give it, from afar. Use your phones and computers to call, text and set up video chats with others. It may not be the same as seeing each other in person, but it’s vastly better than not seeing or talking to anyone.

TURN OFF THE NEWS

I have to remind myself every evening to take a break from the news, whether it be online, on TV or in a newspaper. Staying informed is important, but we also have to know when to shut things off and focus on less dire topics.

 

PRACTICE SELF-CARE

It’s easy to go into an anxiety spiral, but try to remember to relax and find ways to decompress daily, even hourly if need be. Meditation is a great way to stay calm and practice self-awareness. Exercise is also a great option to get the endorphins pumping, and plenty of gyms and yoga studios are beginning to stream online classes for people to take advantage of. Try to take some time to get out in nature as well, even if the ski resorts are closed. A short walk or a brief hike can make a big difference.

HAVE NORMAL CONVERSATIONS

We’ve got to remember to change the topic from the all-consuming coronavirus. Obviously, we want to check in with our loved ones to make sure they’re healthy and safe, but we also want to ask about their lives outside of this national emergency. What are they working on? What are they accomplishing during all of this home time? Have they seen any funny movies lately or read any good books? There’s plenty to talk about besides the virus; we just have to remember that.

STICK TO YOUR ROUTINE

Just because we’re home all the time doesn’t mean we should be binging Netflix or Disney+ every second of the day and night. We’re creatures of habit, and our routines are important to keep, even when nothing about this time in history feels conventional. If you can, go to sleep and wake up at your normal times. Make sure you’re taking your medications and vitamins, practice your daily exercise regimen, and eat your meals at ordinary hours. Even though it’s tempting to drink all of the wine in the liquor cabinet and sleep until noon the next day, it may do more harm than good. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t treat ourselves in some ways; we just shouldn’t veer so far from normal that we lose our grounding.  

There’s a lot of uncertainty right now, and it’s terrifying. But there are still things we can control. We can take care of ourselves, we can take care of the people we love, and we can be kind to others, even if we don’t know them. If we do these things, hopefully we will come out of this closer to one another and stronger as a nation and a world. Stay healthy out (or in) there!

Barbara Platts is taking this social distancing time to catch up on books, writing projects and to stay in touch with the people she loves. Reach her at bplattts.000@gmail.com or on Twitter @BarbaraPlatts.