We Need To Reframe How We Talk About Social Distancing
Social distancing might not have been relevant to you or me a month ago, but it might as well go down as the motto of 2020—and for good reason.
It’s the directive from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and so many of our public leaders in the face of growing concerns around coronavirus, or COVID-19—the virus at the source of our current pandemic.
The current guidelines suggest staying 6-10 feet apart from those around you, avoid going to restaurants and bars, and basically anywhere not deemed absolutely necessary. Many states, like California and New York, have also put in place more serious guidelines, banning any nonessential gatherings.
But for so many of us, those suggestions can immediately translate into fears and anxieties, rooted in isolation.
Grappling with what it means to be isolated from your community or people you love is hard, and if you’re experiencing strong emotions around that, you’re not weak in the slightest—nor are you alone.
Pre-coronavirus, those very spaces we’re now told to avoid were the areas in which we connected with others in direct and in-direct ways, whether it was with friends over brunch, fellow service workers, or even with people in traffic alongside us on our morning commutes.
We thrive on a sense of connection, and it’s human to feel a sense of sadness or frustration as COVID-19 changes what that typically looks like for us.
But a key thing to remember: the virus can change how we connect, but it can’t take it away.
Mindfulness speaker and educator Jen Kluczkowski (who is also the voice of so many of your favorite Shine meditations) graciously shared a “social distancing” mindset shift with the team here at Shine HQ. It’s already proven to be so helpful as we all try to come to terms with what might be our new normal, for at least the time being—and we wanted to share it with you too.
She challenged us to realize that social distancing at its core is really just physical distancing—and we have the freedom to call it just that.
She reminded us that there are still so many ways to connect with each other, support each other, and to build towards a better tomorrow together, even if we aren’t physically able to be in the same place.
Finding new ways to connect might feel awkward at first, but incorporating connection into your routines can help you feel a sense of calm and familiarity.
It has for me, especially when it comes to checking in with those I love on a daily basis. As I reflect on the messages I’ve received or the calls I’ve made or the conversations with strangers I’ve had recently (from a healthy 10 feet apart), I realize that I’ve also never felt closer to my family members, friends, and neighbors.
Still: I know it’s harder for some people than others.
For some, physical touch (like hugs or sharing a couch) is their love language. It’s how they feel seen and heard most, and if you feel similarly, you’re not alone.
But in the spirit of finding a new mindset in these unpredictable times, try seeing this experience as a chance to lean into new love languages—like quality time or words of affirmation.
We thrive on a sense of connection—and it helps contribute to our resilience during challenging times. It’s up to us to find new ways to come together, even if we must be physically distanced.
Embrace physical distancing, but don’t leave social connection on the table. Together is how we’ll all see this through.
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