The COVID-19 outbreak has been affecting lives across the country, including ours. All of us have been instructed to practice social distancing measures—stay at least six feet apart, do not congregate in large crowds—and now, with Charleston County under a 14-day stay at home ordinance, the majority of us will be unable to leave our houses with the exception of essential trips.
Human beings are social creatures—we find our joy in coming together, sharing meals and meeting with clients face-to-face. So naturally, being told to isolate for weeks, perhaps even months on end can lead to feelings of loneliness. But it doesn’t have to.
Here at Yarborough Applegate, we’ve been reflecting on how to make the best of this time with our families and friends, even if we can’t physically see them. Below are five tips we have found to be effective—and we hope that they can help you practice safe social distancing without feeling socially isolated.
We are so lucky to live in a time of technology. Even if we can’t see our extended family or friends, we still have the means to connect with them. Utilize Zoom or Google Hangouts during conference calls so you can still see and stay connected to your clients, coworkers and co-counsel. Dedicate one day a week to calling—or better yet, FaceTiming—five friends you haven’t spoken to in a while. We guarantee that taking advantage of this extra time at home to catch up with people you care about will make you feel rejuvenated—and instead of feeling lonely, you’ll start to feel lucky.
A “stay at home” ordinance sounds like we are required to, as it states, stay at home. And while that is true—we cannot and should not be leaving our houses for nonessential trips—we can go outside and get some fresh air, as long as we’re maintaining our distance. So take advantage of that. Start every morning with a walk, and use that time to reconnect with your spouse, your kids or even just give your dog a little more attention than usual. Eat meals outside if the weather is nice. Sunshine and fresh air are proven to elevate your mood—and since we’re all in the same boat, when you walk past your neighbors doing the same, be sure to greet them with a smile.
Be a kid again.
When we were kids, we filled our free time with board games, hopscotch, jump rope and sidewalk chalk. And whether or not you actually have kids, it’s time to break those old games out again. If you’re used to going out to dinner and a movie on a Friday night, remain committed to doing something fun, but instead, turn it into a home-cooked meal and game night. Bond with your children over the kinds of things that kept you occupied when you were a kid, and think about how you want your kids to remember this time of uncertainty—as a time spent in fear, or as a time spent with family.
Turn off the news.
Staying informed is important, but there are diminishing returns when it comes to news consumption. For that reason, we need to turn off the TV. We need to put down our phones. Tune in for a daily update, but after that, just stop checking. Information overload in a time where the information feels almost entirely negative is damaging to our mental health. Instead, read a book. Listen to a good podcast (we’re partial to The Great Trials podcast). Tap into your creativity and try out a new hobby. Spend your time doing something productive and positive, instead of giving into the temptation to read every article you can find online.
In addition to taking care of our mental health, our physical health is important, too. So even though our gyms are closed, we need to dedicate some time each day to get moving. Exercise can mean different things to different people, so whether you are taking a daily walk or run, turning your garage into a gym, doing yoga on the back porch or using one of the many apps now offering free at-home workout classes, breaking a sweat each day will make us feel both healthy and accomplished—two things that are vitally important during a time of public health uncertainty.
We know that these last few weeks have been tough on all of us, and the future, too, remains uncertain. But we also know that we are in this together—as a community, and as a country. So know that we are here for you, Charleston. And we hope these tips can provide a bit of inspiration during a time when we need it most.