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COVID-19… Coronavirus… we all pretty much pull away from social contact by varying degrees these days. More and more states are wisely enforcing “lockdown” or stay at home orders.
As slowing the spread of COVID-19 is a world stage battle, the need to reduce social isolation effects and maintain a healthy balance between isolation and connectedness is so important.
Just recently I read a great article on how astronauts (experts in living isolated), cope with it all.
One interesting point that caught my eye was this statement: “NASA has yet to deal with a single behavioral emergency in space — that’s impressive considering that NASA’s Scott Kelly recently spent a year aboard the International Space Station (ISS).”
The article went on to point out 7 areas that contribute to this success. These 7 items (well, maybe 6 if you remove cryogenic suspension) are things we can relate to and use in our favor as we isolate to protect.
The categories mentioned are:
- Staying connected
- Talking about your stressors
- Having a virtual vacation
- Hibernating the time away (yeah, we’ll skip that one (unless you’re a bear))
- Playing a musical instrument
- Training or planning ahead
These make a lot of sense and can be applied to us earthbound people right now.
Let’s see how…
Social media comes to mind, front and center. It’s a powerful tool we all have that can be used in a positive way, both for you and those following you. Remember it’s good for sharing your feelings and activities, but also good for boosting others’ morale. The more positive the interaction, the better for feeling a connection to the outside world. Even if it’s a grumble about the situation we’re in, there are many that share the same emotion. Get through it together.
Face-to-face video chats can work wonders. Apps like FaceTime, Signal, WhatsApp, or meeting portals like Zoom can connect us and take the sting out of separation. A note about online safety. If you use a portal to invite people to chat, make sure to set up your social meeting with a password and only share it with the ones you invite. That keeps strangers from dropping in on your call if they get the meeting link.
Texting short notes to friends and family help us know that loved ones are still out there dealing with things, as we are. Most smartphones have an app for setting up group chats, so you can include a small group of friends and/or relatives. Keeping the group kind of small makes the whole chat a lot easier to follow, but set up whatever works best for you.
Email is the old standby, and to level up a little, share some pictures. This special touch is like the old fashioned “letters from home”, with a special enclosure just from you! If you are inclined to be more secure about email these days (you should), an easy solution is sending your emails encrypted. My two favorite providers for this service (free!) are ProtonMail and Virtru (they even integrate with Gmail.)
Take the time to comment on posts you read, and make sure to reply to comments you get on your blog. It’s called “social” media for a reason. Don’t be that person who posts and posts and posts and never interacts. Isolation can be overcome through online interaction. Try to comment on 3 posts for every 1 that you publish, but don’t obsess about the numbers. Just interact.
Commenting Side Effect: this can also put you in the spotlight. People may remember you and follow your blog or social media account, even subscribe to your blog’s email list! Build your audience that way. When this whole Coronavirus thing is behind us you’ll be glad you did.
Here’s something completely different and maybe not so obvious, but is huge in terms of sharing and overcoming isolation. Ham Radio. Seriously. Ham Radio. It’s not terribly hard to get started as a “ham” and with your license, you can speak with people all over your country and the world! Plus, after we get through the social-distancing we need so badly now, you will want to meet some fellow hams when we get together a few times a year at “hamfests”. There’s a link to some starter information at the end of this article.
Talking about your stressors
Let out some steam. Even using the media above, you can still get it out of your system. Of course, you want to watch how much “personal” and “anger” you put into it, but getting some things off your chest (even on a phone call) can work wonders. Since we’re dealing with 6-foot social distancing, de-stressing is probably better done virtually.
Oh, and if you’re really stressed and in need of professional counseling, I’ve heard that many of them are now setting up virtual sessions for appointments. Pretty cool.
So, there are no holo-decks yet. Boooo. Because it’s pretty much the time for staycations, you can still escape into a book, TV series, travelogue, or movie. For shorter escapes, virtual reality may be the way to go.
There are many games on video platforms that support the VR format. I’m a pilot, so one of my favorites is Ace Combat 7 VR for Sony Playstation 4. Once you slip that helmet on, the experience is amazing!
Online gaming is one other way to escape. One of my favorites is iRacing.com – even the professional NASCAR drivers are competing with it this year while the official race season has been postponed.
Ehhhhhh, what are your thoughts on this?
Music – entertaining, absorbing, and soothing, no? Have you ever seen the series of YouTube videos where the guy plays the piano for an old, blind elephant? Seriously. The elephant actually seems to really enjoy it. Music has the power to relax, help us move forward, and take us away.
If learning an instrument is out of your league, try karaoke!
Listening. Playing. Taking lessons. Singing. All good. Use it to your advantage.
Being in touch with something live, something that grows, something that is visually pleasing… It makes people experience the birth and growth of something, and it provides this over a good deal of time. It helps us feel in control and connected. This is really valuable when so much of the news today is about the opposite. So, what if you don’t have a green thumb? Try it anyway, look for some simple starter plants that seem to be easy to work with. Your stretch goal can be indoor vegetables. It’s one less thing you need to go to the store for!
Training and planning ahead
There’s a lot of things out of the norm right now. They don’t all have to surprise you. Taking some time to think ahead will pay dividends later. For example, if you’re blogging, you have time now to plan out the content you want to publish over the next few months. You have time to write an ebook. You have time to cover a completely different niche with a brand new site. Take time to comment on other blogs and build some quality backlinks. Take advantage of COVID-related discounts that many companies are offering during these hard times.
Also, grab a simple app like FirstAid by the American Red Cross.
Take some free or low-cost courses on Teachable.
Use the time you have to learn some new skills you can translate to future enjoyment or earnings.
Finally, if you have some free cash and want some world-class education, take a look at MasterClass.com … You’ve probably seen their TV commercials and online ads. The instructors are big names you’ve heard of and the quality of the education is top-notch!
BONUS FUN: Perfect the paper airplane! https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/how-to-plans/a31981092/best-paper-airplane/
Embrace the now. Get through it, stay safe, be positive. Surround yourself with people who look ahead, keep moving forward.
Here’s a summary of the items I referenced above
Disclaimer: Some of these are affiliate links. If you click on them and purchase anything, there is no extra cost at all to you, and I do get a small referral fee. I hope you find them useful!
Ham Radio Materials (study material and equipment)
Online Racing Steering Wheel and Pedals
If you enjoyed this, I’m happy to have helped you in some way.
A quick reminder that by subscribing to my email list, I’ll be able to bring you more content to help you on your blogging journey.
In closing – Here’s a calming, simple message of encouragement I enjoyed recently, from Dr. Charles Stanley regarding Coronavirus.