Coping with physical distancing

by Apr 17, 2020

Coming together.  Sharing. Learning.  Inspiring.

In efforts to flatten the curve and reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus, most non-essential services are closed, and people are staying home as much as possible.    Group activities are largely cancelled or postponed for at least the next couple of months. Indeed, it is now looking like the situation will be around for longer than most of us initially expected.

For several weeks, we have been strongly encouraged to social distancing and that can be challenging for many. I prefer the newer emerging term of ‘physical distancing’ because it adheres to guidelines for slowing the spread, and ‘flattening the curve’ but without suggesting a need to reduce social contact. Distancing does not have to mean isolation.  People are taking advantage of social media to stay connected with friends and family through information, education, entertainment and activity resources for all ages.

Coping with Isolation

If you find yourself with more time on your hands, you might be seeking connection or a new diversion. Here are a few ideas.

Reach Out

Phone and online links provide a way to offer support and connection to vulnerable community members. There are lots of ways to help make a difference. Help neighbours to get needed supplies with grocery runs and curbside drop-off and pick-up. Make donations to organizations like food banks. Volunteer for meal delivery or supply drops. Support local small businesses. 

If you are on the other side and in need of help, please do not hesitate to reach out and ask for it. Call, text or email a friend or family member or connect with an online community group. People are generally eager to help when and how they can.  You might need support today but be able to offer it another day. Check Facebook, the phone book or the local newspaper for government support or local community groups. In Nova Scotia, the Corona Virus Support page is a good place to look for resources

Learn something

If you have more free time than usual in isolation, why not take a course? Online platforms such as Coursera, EdX , and ClassCentral offer thousands of academic courses and much of it is free!

The Great Courses offers downloadable lecture courses in podcast format.  Bluprint focuses on crafting. For online crafting options closer to home (in Atlantic Canada) visit MaritimeArtList.Com. And, of course, there is always YouTube  with new content every day in all topics for any level or style.

Exercise and play:

Go for a walk close to home.  Get up and move every hour.  Create a family activity jar with ideas for daily entertainment. Make an indoor Olympics course.  Many local fitness facilities and trainers have added new or extended online options to help you stay fit and active at home.  Visit your favourite trainer, fitness or yoga studio on their website or Facebook page or ask friends for referals for training they have tried. Or connect with friends on Zoom and create your own shared workouts.

Express yourself

Use whatever medium works for you – write, draw, sketch, bake, stitch, make a video, paint, dance, tell jokes, or prefect your magic skills.  Create for yourself or to share.  Want to join others and take a challenge?  Here is one place to start:  A long and entirely subjective list of creative challenges to get you through COVID-19. Lots of creative challenges are popping up on line so you can find something that you already love – or have been waiting for the chance to try.

Be productive

Finish craft WIPs (works in progress). Clean your closets/drawers. Minimize and organize. Do your taxes. Read -or listen to – that book you have had on your list for ‘when I have time’. Prepare items to donate (after restrictions are lifted, of course). Manage your paperwork. Write that novel or screenplay…. What have you been wanting to find time to do?

Don’t worry about doing something big or special or ‘worthy’ that is just too much pressure and you don’t need extra pressure right now. Don’t be too hard on yourself but if you have the time and energy, it can be a good time to tackle a few of the items on your list. If you are weighed down by anxiety already, go easy on yourself, but start with one small thing and it might change your energy for the day.

Travel in place

Actual physical travel might be out at the moment but you can still find ways to explore the world. Read a great book. Visit museums or art galleries online. Here are a few that offer streaming exhibits. Visit your own favourites to see whether they have special online materials. Connect with Nature through live feeds like the ones at Explore.Org or these selections selected by in the article Stuck at Home? Connect with Nature Through These Invigorating Live Feeds

Attend an online concert

The lists are changing every day as art centers, studios, symphonies, dancers and individual artists post recorded and live shows.  Watch Facebook and Instagram of your favourite artists or reviewers  to find updates and watch for new listings on streaming services or concert venues

Connect with Community

Call a friend or someone who might be vulnerable, join FB groups with shared interests and discussion, take part in social isolation dance parties or sing-alongs.  Get recommendations from friends online – or invite others to join you with your own virtual dance party or trivia challenge or musical jam or …

What about you?

How are you coping? Do you have a community? If not, reach out today. You don’t have to face these strange times alone.

How are you dealing with physical distancing?

What has been your most effective coping strategy?

What new ‘traditions’ have evolved in with your friends or family?

Are you being productive — or not so much? Why?



Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Educator, Artist, Storyteller


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