Looking at the news within the past month, you and your family may be noticing that the words COVID-19 & social distancing are becoming a part of your everyday vocabulary. The first thing you may ask your self is, what do these words mean?

What Is COVID-19?

The scariest word you could say today is COVID-19. This is the virus that is sweeping the globe and causing concern. Also known as the coronavirus, it is a flu that has an average two week incubation period. In the United States, there have been 163,539 reported cases, according to the CDC, by 3/31. Out of those cases, there have 2,860 deaths due to COVID-19.

So why is COVID-19 scarier than the average flu? This is due to the rate at which it spreads. This virus can incubate in someone without their knowledge and is highly contagious. It’s due to the rate of contamination that social distancing has become a common term in most news and social outlets. However, what does it mean? Does it mean you should never leave your home or only go out when you need to?

What is social distancing?

Social distancing, according to John Hopkins University, means that you are physically staying at least 6 feet away from other people, and limiting your interactions with other people. At first, it sounds innocent enough. However, the implications are that you are going out only if you need to. The idea of social distancing is to limit your outings, avoid going to social gatherings, and stop physical interactions from occurring with strangers who may or may not have COVID-19 without knowing it.

Social distancing does not mean that you are not allowed to interact with people; it just means that you should not physically meet with anyone that is not a member of your household. The idea of limiting social contact will help you stop the spread of coronavirus and prevent it from spreading to your loved ones, or people that you live with.

What can you do while practicing social distancing?

There are many things that you can do to fight the battle of stress caused by social distancing. Humans are social animals, and we are not used to be told not to interact with people. Interactions do not have to be physical and can be done in a variety of ways to help you stay happy, healthy, and safe.

The Art of Calling

Most people have a mobile device and the ability to call people. Even if your minutes are limited, you can call through your wifi if that is available and help save on mobile minutes. Most people nowadays text to communicate. If you look at your phone history, it may show that you haven’t called anyone in a while.

Picking up the phone to call someone can help ease anxiety or worries you may have. Calling allows you to confirm through audio that your friends and family are alright in this tumultuous time. It also can become a habit which is highly encouraged as you practice social distancing as it helps you feel like life is as healthy as possible. You can set time each day, or a part of each week to call your parents or friends and check-in. There does not have to be a purpose to the call. It does not have to be long if you don’t want it to be. It just helps you get some social interaction throughout your day.

Videochat: Seeing Someone’s Face

If you want to take phone calls to the next step, then video chatting is the way to go. There is a variety of video chatting software and apps that are available such as Facetime, Skype, Marco Polo, etc. There are so many systems, and with a little bit of research, you can find the one that works for you and the people you are talking to. The best part is most of them are free with some slight restrictions. Making an account should be reasonably straight forward and the only hardware you need is a phone/computer and a camera/webcam.

Video chatting allows you to see the person that you cannot visit physically, which can help you feel a bit more social connection without physical contact. To know the person you are talking to will help you feel less isolated and allow you to keep practicing social distancing.

What should you not do while you are practicing social distancing?

There are a few things that you should not do while practicing social distancing that the government is recommending. These are things that could potentially spread COVID-19 to others and put people other people at risk.

Avoid Social Gatherings

It may be tempting when you are two weeks in and have not hung out with anyone except the people in your household. However, it is essential to avoid social gatherings as much as possible. This is especially important for groups of 10 or more people. If you find that you have to meet with people, see if it is possible to do a conference call or a video meeting; instead, the fewer people you interact with, the less the virus can spread.

Don’t Dine In At Restaurants

This one may sound strange or restricting, but this does not mean you have to cook everything at home. Eating from resturants is fine, however avoid dining in the building itself. Try to do take out, pick up or delivery and stay 6ft away from people as much as physically possible until you pick up your food and then go back home. Many restaurants are now only operating through taking out and delivery, which makes it easier to make this choice.

Work from Home and Go to School Online

Many employers may already be practicing this, but if it is possible, try to talk to your employer. See if you can work remotely or at home. This also goes for school classes and gatherings. Talk to your student’s teachers or professors and see if they have web options to help keep your child safe and out of large group interactions.

All of the above tips will help you practice proper social distancing that is a necessary component of stopping the spread of COVID-19. If you find that you need help combating substance abuse while practicing social distancing, feel free to reach out to our professionals at Pinelands Recovery Medical Center in Medford. They will be able to help you deal with struggles of alcoholism, addiction, and other addictions during these troubling times.