7 Wellness Tips During Social Distancing

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  • Editor's note: Updated March 17, 2020. 

    The 2020 coronavirus pandemic is forcing people into a new, but temporary, way of life known as “social distancing.” Social distancing means increasing the physical space between people to help prevent spreading illness. Currently, the recommended distance is at least 6 feet. 

    But social distancing does not mean total isolation. For instance, you can hang out with your family at home. You can talk to neighbors from the comfort of your front porch or back deck. These are good first steps to help maintain your physical and mental well-being during social distancing. Hang on to these tips:

  • 1
    Don’t fill up on junk food.
    African American father and young son cooking together in kitchen

    During social distancing, it can be easy to give into stress, which can include binging on junk food. Instead, it’s important to maintain a diet full of healthy fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy products. 

    Fire up the grill and cook up some grilled seafood and roasted veggies. Or throw together a healthy salad filled with your favorite toppings and proteins. Just don’t overdo it with cheese, croutons or salad dressing.

  • 2
    Keep up your exercise routine.
    Home exercise

    Although your regular gym may be closed during social distancing, you still can maintain fitness at home. You’ll find many fitness videos on YouTube that range from Zumba and yoga to Pilates and cardio routines. In addition, many fitness centers are live-streaming fitness classes. Of course, you can always go ‘old school’ and make up your own routine of jumping jacks, push-ups, lunges, planks and other exercises that don’t require a gym membership. 

    Bonus: If you are a stay-at-home parent or working from a home office, you can pepper your day with 5 to 6 10-minute bursts of activity instead of one longer workout.

  • 3
    Maintain your schedule as much as possible.
    schedule

    If your daily routine has changed drastically—for instance, you’re now working from home with the kids underfoot—it may feel impossible to set and maintain a daily routine. However, creating and following a daily schedule and routine can help keep stress at bay and provide a sense of normalcy during social distancing. Craft a personal schedule that includes regular work hours, school work for the kids, time to exercise, daily chores, and time to relax.

  • 4
    Stay in touch with family and friends.
    senior-man-telephoning-with-smart-phone-at-home

    Despite social distancing, staying connected with loved ones is easier than ever. Call and chat with your best friend, FaceTime with your parents, and set up watch parties with friends. Although you may not be sharing the same space, you still will be spending valuable time together, which goes a long way in maintaining togetherness. Using today’s technology is a great way to span distance without risking the spread of illness.

  • 5
    Limit time on social media and watching the news.
    Close-up of remote control pointed at blurred TV screen in background

    Just as today’s technology can keep us connected to friends, loved ones, and coworkers, it also can have an adverse effect if we spend too much time on social media or watching the news. A constant stream of news reports—or worse, speculation—can create increased feelings of anxiousness or distress, which will take a toll on both your physical and mental well-being. 

    Don’t be afraid to check in on social media or catch the latest news broadcast, but limit your time with those outlets to one hour a day to avoid increased stress.

  • 6
    Go outside for some fresh air and sunshine.
    smiling senior woman with backpack hiking outdoors

    Social distancing does not mean staying sequestered in your home. Take time each day to go outside and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. Relax in a porch chair and read a good book. Play with the kids in the backyard. You even can set out on a hike at a local park, or go kayaking in a nearby lake or river. As long as you’re not in a crowd and maintain your distance, these activities will greatly benefit your physical and mental well-being, including a good dose of vitamin D. Just don’t forget your sunscreen.

  • 7
    Don’t forego self-care.
    woman relaxing on sofa

    If you have a full household at home during social distancing, it can be easy to get caught up in taking care of the family at the expense of your own health. Make time for yourself each day to help reduce stress. Take a bubble bath after the kids are in bed, indulge in your favorite sweet treat after dinner, or binge on a couple of episodes of your favorite show. Essentially, take a mental break from daily life, and relax, if even for just an hour.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Mar 17
  1. What is social distancing? John Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-social-distancing-and-self-quarantine 
  2. Mental Health and Psychosocial Considerations During COVID-19 Outbreak. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/mental-health-considerations.pdf?sfvrsn=6d3578af_8
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