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Social Distancing Does Not Mean Emotional Distancing - Don't Stop Being Kind

I hesitated to write another article about the C-Virus and the trickle-down effect it is having everywhere. I am pretty much over the constant bombardment of social media posts and countless news reports mostly designed to either vent frustration or create more. I'm not even sure where I fall on the believers vs non-believers. I know it's not a scam, but there are scammers who will play into the fear. I'm not a doctor or a scientist, so I have no credibility to speak to this virus vs the flu and goodness knows if you look on the internet enough times you will find information to support whatever theory you want to promote. But this is what I do know. There is a lot of fear and anxiety. Now you can blame social media, you can blame politics, or you can blame a 24-hour news cycle that regurgitates both facts and opinions at an alarming speed. Honestly, at this point, I'm not sure it matters where it started, the fact is people are afraid. The unknown is the biggest multiplier of anxiety and right now there is just so much we still don't know. And just telling everyone not to be afraid isn't the greatest strategy. So I wanted to try to do a little more. My biggest concern is the emotional toll of social distancing. Truthfully, I really wish they had come up with another phrase. Physical public distancing is the more accurate term anyway. (My humble opinion.) Calling it social distancing makes it feel like something else; something more damaging. The very definition of social is friendly, gracious, pleasant, polite. As a nation, or a world, we do NOT want to tell people to distance themselves from those qualities. And I KNOW that is not the meaning behind the phrase. People hear one thing, but words have meaning and they sink into our psyche. If we are not careful, we will start to associate social distancing with fear of our neighbor. And my Hopefuls, we cannot allow that to happen. There was enough racism, hate, and bullying to go around way before coronavirus was a household word. (Any bets on the word of the year, maybe even decade??) We have to make a concerted effort to keep from feeding into the fear frenzy. Your Asian neighbor was not the source of this disease. No need to take your frustrations out on them. The person coughing in line behind you or two cubicles down does not have leprosy. They may (may, not absolute) have a/the virus. But if they do, they need our sympathies and not our disdain. We can't allow our fears to make us suspicious of everyone we have contact with. We have to do better. Be better. We have to be KIND! The other aspect of social distancing that concerns me is our lack of human connection. We still need each other. We are 'social' beings. Even hard-cord introverts like myself need our tribe and emotional family. Limiting our physical contact and interaction can create a greater sense of detachment and loneliness. We need to make sure we continue to reach out to those around us. Call. Text. Email. Facetime. Skype. Whatever method works best for you, USE IT! Check on your friends. Talk to your family. This is especially true for those who live alone. And if you know of those who live alone, make a special effort to connect to see how they are doing and if they need anything, especially if they are older. And remember this. Don't allow fear or isolation to drain your emotional resources. Self-care is a trending buzz word, but right now I think it is pretty important. Try to limit your exposure to the onslaught of information. Pick one source that you trust and go there for your information. Choose one that appears to be balanced between reporting the facts but not maximizing the fear factor. Put a little control back into your routine. You can't control the virus, news media or the CDC, but you can control your life. Take precautions. Follow the guidelines. Be careful. But also don't grind your life to a halt. There are certain places you may not be able to go, but nature is still out there. Take a walk. Ride a bike. Move your body every day somehow. Get the sun on your face if at all possible. The bottom line is, every day we are presented with opportunities to make the world a better place. Now is the perfect time to seize those opportunities. Be supportive. Show empathy. Care for others around you. Share your faith. Share your love. I have created a new Facebook online chat/support community for anyone curious or anxious about any aspect of the coronavirus. It is not an update page, or a medical page, just a safe place for anyone to share, ask questions, answer questions, make friends, or be a friend. The goal is to spread community HOPE and not fear. Come join us if you would like. Remember that social distancing does not mean emotional distancing. We are all in this together. Not alone. And, as always... Hope With Abandon! Hope Out

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