Social distancing is the buzzword in the U.S. right now, and rightfully so – it’s important and necessary and it’s not that hard to figure out what it means. And while it’s extremely important, it’s also not easy for people who are used to being out and about for the majority of the week. In fact, if you’re used to a more social lifestyle, social distancing can have a real impact on your mental health.
First, I’ll be honest: it’s easier for some to #StayHome than others. If we’re all staying at home indefinitely it’s sure to get to all of us at some point, but some of us might be more comfortable with it off the bat than others. Though they’re highly exaggerated, the jokes about introverts cruising through isolation have some merit to them. But even that is different because we’re in a unique situation where we don’t know how long we’ll be living in this state. And that’s the thing that’s having a big impact on a lot of people.
One of the roots of my anxiety disorder (and I’m sure of a lot of other people’s mental health disorders, too) is that I end up being uncertain about everything that’s happening in my life. Everything is a worst-case scenario, what if something goes wrong, etc. Now, we’re all uncertain about everything. And honestly, it makes sense that we are. But that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.
When it comes to mental health, a lot of us have our coping mechanisms and routines that get us through each day, and a lot of that has been taken away from us. That cup of coffee in the morning, or knowing that we have an exercise class after work – so much of what we do to maintain mental wellness generally happens outside our home. And that’s where the adjustment needs to be made.
Whether or not you have a mental health disorder, we’re all in the same boat now, and these coming weeks or months will be a trying time for everyone. While there’s been plenty of articles to read about everything we can do in our apartments and homes to maintain our routines, next week I want to take a different approach based on the research and resources I’m able to find. In the meantime, be smart and make good decisions – we all have a part to play!
For tips about managing anxiety, please check out last week’s posts on understanding our anxiety and how to manage it.
I think it’s really important that we recognize the impact social distancing is having on those of us affected by mental illness/mental health challenges. I spent the majority of my days growing up in social isolation due to my condition; the current state of events is a strong reminder that the ebb and flow of life can take its toll. Reaching out can go a long way toward strengthening those most important human connections.