When we feel lonely or overwhelmed by the situation we are in, we can easily fall into the trap of emotionally distancing ourselves from others. In this post, we will look at how you can avoid emotional distancing when socially distancing.
The effects of the coronavirus have been more far-reaching than most of us could ever have imagined. Fortunately, all of us can successfully help prevent the exponential spread of coronavirus. What we need to do is to reduce our social contact with others by practicing ‘social distancing’.
This means cutting down on all non-essential contact with others even if we are healthy ourselves. However, when we spend more time on our own or in close quarters with just one or two others, we can sometimes feel lonely.
What Is Social Distancing?
“Remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible” – Center for Disease Control
Social distancing refers to steps taken to reduce our social interactions with other people to stop the spread of infections. This usually involves curtailing all contact that is purely social and sometimes staying away from work and school even when healthy.
It means limiting face-to-face time with our loved ones and our friends if we do not live with these groups. It means doing this, even if we personally show no symptoms or are unlikely to suffer an extreme reaction to the coronavirus.
Coronavirus is highly contagious and an estimated 15% of cases will require hospital care, with a further 5% requiring ICU care. For this reason, social distancing is vital to stop the spread.
Social distancing can help hospitals with limited resources and prevent the speed of virus spread. Moreover, it can buy time for the global community to find vaccines, cures, and source vital equipment to help those who need it before more lives are unnecessarily lost.
Why Is Social Distancing Important?
The value of social distancing is shown most starkly in the contrasting death rates between South Korea and Italy which both saw 10 people killed by the coronavirus at about the same time.
With social distancing and an effective testing program in South Korea, under 100 people have died from coronavirus, compared to almost 5,000 deaths in Italy as of late March 2020. Ultimately, by practicing social distancing, you can save lives.
What Is Emotional Distancing?
Emotional distancing can occur if we live on our own, with friends, or with a partner. Typically, we can be drawn to isolate ourselves emotionally when overwhelmed by demands in a relationship or other stresses.
As the discussion above shows, we have a lot to be overwhelmed by at the moment. Moreover, practicing social distancing can lead to us feeling lonely because of our physical separation from others.
Fortunately, there are steps we can take to help stop us from feeling lonely. The first step is recognizing when we may be becoming emotionally distant.
Below, we outline 3 ways to avoid emotional distancing during social distancing
These will help us all feel connected during these emotionally challenging times.
Practice emotional connectivity
Spending time alone can help us to reconnect with ourselves emotionally. We also have to try and remember that being alone physically does not have to mean we feel alone mentally. We can realize this by practicing feeling emotionally connected by remembering things we have done with others in the past. This could be acts of kindness people have done for us or acts of kindness we have done for others.
We can also feel more connected to people by taking the time to think about who we care about as well as ourselves. This could be a small group of people close to you or broader.
Simply by recognizing our care for others and taking time to think about this, we can feel more connected to others. We can also engage with supporting the people more isolated than ourselves by organizing collectively to minimize our overall social contact.
Stay virtually connected
Not being able to see people face-to-face can be hard. Thankfully, with video calls, text, email, and phone calls, we can feel much closer to our nearest and dearest when socially distancing. It is a great idea to ramp up this form of connectivity as we more stringently socially distance ourselves from others.
Indeed, we may find ourselves benefiting from more regular contact with our loved ones than if we could simply pop round. We can give ourselves space from those we share close quarters with and foster relationships with those further away.
Practice kindness & gratitude
If we are socially isolating or socially distancing with others in our homes, then we can become emotionally distant with those we share physical space with. We can combat this by being open and honest about how we are feeling.
Early on, it can be beneficial to recognize some of the aspects of ‘quarantine’ that you may find challenging. Whilst we can be tempted to evade things that make us feel uncomfortable, avoidance coping can be unhealthy.
Actively practicing kindness to one another and ourselves can help to make us feel closer to each other. Do you find yourself feeling distant or irritable with those you share space with? Actively focusing on being kind and grateful to have them is a way to stave off emotional distancing.
Maybe when social distancing is a thing of the past, we’ll hug a little harder, hold on a little longer, and remember that nothing matters more than the time we spend with the people we love.
It can be tempting to see ourselves as invincible to the consequences of the coronavirus.
However, it is important to remember that our actions have consequences for others as well as ourselves. Socially distancing has been shown to be vital in the fight against coronavirus. It is something we all need to take seriously.
Fortunately, when socially distancing ourselves from others, we can remind ourselves that we are connected emotionally as well as physically. By realizing this, we can avoid emotionally distancing ourselves during social distancing.
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