How I deal with social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic

For the past 3 weeks, I have been working from home. And while I am an introvert who loves being indoors and having minimum social contact, I am feeling the effects of social distancing during this coronavirus pandemic.

Before, I would spend most of my afternoons and weekends recharging from it all. But I have always known that if I wanted to go out, have a meal at a restaurant, check out a cool exhibition or simply go shopping, I could do it. It was encouraged, expected, safe.

I used to enjoy working from home – here and there. I enjoyed the flexibility it allowed and how productive I felt. I was expecting the same feeling when I started working from home a few weeks ago. And it was like that the first days – until I started to obsessively check the news. Borders closing, numbers rising, people stockpiling. And that’s when I released that we don’t know how long this will last. After scrolling through Facebook and the local news, I’d get a bout of anxiety. I feel like 99% of the news right now are about coronavirus and how this will be the end of us. That’s how it feels. Inevitable, painful.

We are all going through this, and I would like to share what I am doing to cope with the current social distancing situation.

Stop checking the news so often

I decided to check the news once a day. In the morning, one website with a live ticker, where I would get major local and international updates. And then that was it for 24h. I still stumble upon devastating news about it on my Facebook feed – I acknowledge them and then scroll past them.

Get some fresh air

Fresh air and sun do wonders. At least for Luxembourg, the weather has been sunny every single day. Not necessarily warm, but sunny nonetheless. If you have a garden, balcony, take advantage of it. If you don’t have any, sit by the open window, and get some fresh air & look at the clear planeless sky 🙂 If you are allowed to go out for jogging or a walk, while respecting the distances, and it’s something you love doing, do it.

Start an exercise routine

My number one excuse for not exercising was not having the time and being too tired after work. But with working from home allowing for more flexibility and saving time (don’t have to et ready so much in the morning) I managed to add some yoga. At the end of every ‘workday,’ I change into my leggings, roll out the yoga mat, and get started. For 30-40 minutes, I’m there, on the mat, focusing on my breathing, my posture, my core. Everything in the world melts away. It’s not only great for my physical health but also my mental health.

Have a routine even if you work from home

Working from home doesn’t have to be all over the place. If it’s possible, have a routine where you set a starting and an ending time. Even if you work from home, you still need to have a work-life balance. Try to keep the same routine as before.

For example, I would always start my morning with a shower, a small skincare routine, a small breakfast and a coffee. Then dress, get a coffee to go from the local cafe, and head to work. I would always take my lunch break and had smaller breaks through the day where I’d chat with my colleagues. And at the end of the day, I would do my best to turn off my brain and enjoy my free time.

I am now doing something similar. Starting the day the same way except I have only one coffee in the morning (and it’s a big one). I still have a lunch break and I still take smaller breaks, more often to sit on the balcony in the sun. And at the end of the workday, I close the laptop, do my yoga routine, and then get on with my free afternoon.

Keep in touch with friends and family

Travelling is postponed until further notice. And even it if hurts not being able to visit my family for Easter, it’s for the best. Travelling right now to your home country (even if it may be allowed) it’s not the best idea. You may carry or catch on the way the virus and then spread it to your relatives. I wouldn’t forgive myself if I got friends or family sick.

But thanks to technology nowadays, I am able (as before) to keep in touch with my friends and family. Sure, we are to able to go for a girls night out or a Sunday brunch, but a Skype call is the next best thing.

Be more mindful of the activities you are doing

If I work from home, that does not mean I have so much more free time than before. But I am more mindful about the activities I choose. Weirdly, I try to opt for less screen time and more analogue activities (sitting on the balcony, reading a real book). And when I do spend time watching something, it’s not only keeping up with the usual TV shows but also trying to actively incorporate fun and interesting stuff that would distract me from the reality. This is definitely not a good time to watch TV shows or movies about pandemics. This is the time when you are watching the Tiger King, which not only gives you a very interesting insight into big cat breeding in the US but also the possibility to understand the memes going around.

Be kind to yourself

Last but not least, be kind to yourself. We are going through unprecedented times. While we are all trying to forget about the situation to take care of our mental health, we have to be aware of the reality. And we have to be aware that it affects us, whether we try to ignore it or not. Just the fact that we have to stay home as much as possible can put pressure on us. There’s this anxiety in the air.

If you feel that you cannot do anything productive, it’s totally fine – take it slow.

At the moment, I’m actually in 2 online courses and was also really interested in learning how to read Hangeul and a few basic Korean words. Guess what my progress is? 0. I was actually more productive before the confinement than now when I have more free time.

But I try to not put pressure on me. With so much going on in the world right now, we are all doing our best to cope with it, in our own ways. If that means doing absolutely nothing in our free time, but cook, nap and Netflix, then be it.

Be kind to yourself and others – we are all trying our best to go through this coronavirus pandemic.

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