If, in late 2019 (which now feels about 30 years away) you had seen this tweet about social distancing…
You’d probably have thought it to be something along the lines of “covfefe” in which the President was possibly just spewing nonsense out into the world to see what would stick. But flash forward to March of 2020 and the phrase “social distancing” is now probably on the fast track to be the most used words (non-virus edition) of the year, if it isn’t already there.
It’s because in the face of a worldwide pandemic that isn’t showing much in the way of slowing down, at least not in the United State, social distancing has become one of the only ways to conceivably combat the COVID-19 virus. Because the spread of the virus, in some places, is still on a doubling timeline, experts have deemed this method, separating yourself from society, as one of the ways to speed bump the infection rate.
Some people are in the “If I get corona, I get corona, it’s not gonna stop me from partying” camp. While others have fully battened down the hatches in favor of full-on quarantine.
Social distancing lives in the middle, the fat part of the bell curve and has a number of different applications and strategies to help slow the viruses growth rate.
Just Stay Home
On its surface, social distancing amidst a viral outbreak starts with some very easy, very clear steps. The Whitehouse released a simple document to outline the barebones pieces of the practice. It can be summed up with a basic “sick = stay home, kids sick = stay home, old = stay home, someone in your house sick = stay home.”
Some of these practices have been sped along with virtually all of the nation’s schools now shut down. The act of making sure school children weren’t in daily physical contact with each other, or even in the same vicinity within classrooms, was one of the first measures to enact social distancing across larger populations.
Additional measures for macro social distancing have already occured with some workplaces going almost full remote, social gatherings all but halted in most major cities/ epicenters of the virus and many restaurants stopping all dine-in services and operating only on takeout orders.
So from a top-down viewpoint, these are some of the bigger moves to encourage or even “force” social distancing among different population centers.
Staying Safe Outside Quarantine
What about on an individual level? What are best practices for maintaining social distancing in situations that are “unavoidable”?
- It’s recommended that people stay, at minimum, six feet apart from each other in outdoor settings.
- Upon returning home it’s best to diligently wash your hands, avoid touching your face or mouth and to antiseptically wipe down any surface that may have been in contact with others.
- Most precautions are of the “don’t get too close” variety with an additional heightened awareness of things you’ve been in contact with.
Should you have people at your house? Probably not. In areas with higher rates of infections, going solo in your home is almost for sure the right way to go.
Mind Your Mental Health While Social Distancing
And finally, there’s a mental aspect to social distancing that can’t be overlooked and might have as big an effect on your life as surgically scrubbing your hands each time you leave the house.
The American Psychological Association is making some general mental wellbeing recommendations for those practicing social distancing. To avoid isolation, fear and anxiety they recommend…
- Set up solid daily routines
- Limit your news intake
- Focus on healthy habits
- Stay in contact with others as much as possible through virtual meetings
In March of 2020 social distancing has taken on a role in a society that few would have ever believed even just a few weeks ago. Many in the US are practicing social distancing almost whether they like it or not while other areas and more populations could be starting to see it affect their routines even more shortly. The term and practice encompasses so much in our world, taking over vast (and almost all) of our daily life in the United States.