“Social Distancing”. It’s all I’m hearing when I put on the TV, when I am talking to friends, or scrolling through Instagram. The term sounds so cold and clinical. It brings up images of people sitting alone at home. It is only when I was talking to my good friend Sandy that we reflected that social distancing is completely inaccurate. We are simply distancing ourselves from one another physically, not socially.
At first I think many took the term a bit too literally, and felt emotionally disconnected. As we embrace a new normal, everything feels a little calmer. People have found a way to settle into their new routines, and initial pressures to balance multiple roles of working, childcare and teaching, have reduced. We have found our way to being more compassionate to ourselves and realising that we can’t do it all. Not because we can’t, but because we are’t meant to. It is an impossible task.
The government, scientists and doctors recommend that we “socially distance” by staying at home. They recommend that we go out for only essential tasks such as grocery shopping and our daily allowance of exercise. Instead of being socially distant, why don’t we reframe that to being “physically distant, but socially and emotionally close”.
We can choose to be socially and emotionally close to others in this time in so many ways. When we are outdoors, we could choose to:
- Make eye contact with others
- Smile at them
- Wave, say “hi, hope you have a nice day”
- If that’s too much, a simple nod of acknowlegement.
My toddler and I went to our local park on Sunday for our daily allowance of sunshine. We did all these things and it was such a joy to watch him play. I explained to him that we couldn’t go too close to the doggies, but we could wave from afar. He made many walkers that day smile ear to ear as we all remained safe.
We can remain socially close in the comfort of our homes too. Although we may not be working in our offices now, it has never been a better time to be self isolated. We have super fast wifi in our homes which allows us to Netflix, social media scroll and contact friends all at the same time.
We may not be able to have a cuddle with our loved ones but we can maintain our contact via voice notes, text messaging and the best thing ever invented, video messaging. I video called my Nani a few days ago, and it made both of us so so happy. It was lovely to see her beautiful smile even though she hasn’t had the best health recently.
A number of apps allow people to video call:
- Whatsapp video allows up to 4 people to video chat together
- Zoom can be used to set meetings with others. You can send them the link and they join in on your “meeting” and can allow up to 100 participants
- My favourite yet is Houseparty. It feels very much like a house party. When you open the app, you can immediately video chat to anyone in your friends list who is “here” with you, and others can join you, just like you would at a houseparty. When I am chatting with a friend, I am pleasantly surprised by other friends who also want to catch up with us, and it turns into a group meet with the comfort of your PJs and sofa. As someone who is often busy with a toddler, it is hard to set a time to meet with friends, so this is a great way to catch up without having a clear intention to.
You may even say that I am more social now than I was before the lockdown, haha!
So remember ladies and gents, be socially close whilst physically distant. This is temporary and will pass.