We hear so much about social distancing – how it is imperative that we stay at least six-feet away from people to avoid catching or passing on the corona virus. We have been duly wearing our masks, washing our hands, staying indoors unless it is essential to venture out, and following all the guidelines, and we know that for now, this is how life has to be.
But is the term ‘social distancing’ giving us the wrong message? After all, feeling socially distanced from family and friends is hard for us all. We may need to be physically distanced at the moment, and we can grasp the necessity behind the rules – but we need to be socially connected.
When we are physically distanced we cannot gather together but we can still stay connected in other ways. Virtual connection is imperative for our mental health. It is easy to feel ‘stir crazy ‘ and find anxious feelings taking hold when feeling socially distanced. We can still be sociable, just in a different way. Nothing can replace a real hug, nothing can replace holding a loved one’s hand, and nothing can replace kissing someone better, but ‘feeling’ someone is there, in the airwaves, in the ether, or smiling on a screen can help.
One thing that is hard, especially with social media, is to be discerning. With time on our hands, we can find ourselves endlessly scrolling through posts or comments on various sites or groups and reading more than is good for us. There is a lot of good and well-meaning information out there but sometimes we can read ‘stuff’ that is upsetting or just plain mean. So while social media is an invaluable tool for keeping in touch with loved ones, friends and the wider world, we need to be mindful of how it makes us feel and even what we pass on to others. I guess if we just connect with those we love, those we care about and those we admire, we should reap the positive gains that are there.
This January seems a particularly hard one. I think a lot of us feel weighed down with worry and fear. Even those of us who are normally positive are finding the days merging into one another, and that motivation has taken a dive. As always, it is focusing on the smaller things that can help get us through. We need to cut through the drama which is invading our homes each night via our television screens, the relentless reporting of miserable situations. Of course we need to be informed but we can only take so much. A few nights without the television news works wonders and helps us to get a better nights sleep.
And maybe it’s time to dream! Just because we can’t go anywhere right now, doesn’t mean we can’t visit places or people in our dreams. This time won’t last forever and good times will come again, but for now we can indulge a little bit in a fantasy world. I seem to be imagining living part of the time in a Shepherd’s Hut, set in a field of daisies, and complete with the softest feather mattress, coloured china and a wood burning stove. It’s my favourite ‘go to ‘place at the moment. I also remember dreaming once that I had visited my elder son who lives an ocean away – the dream was so real; I hugged him and touched his curly hair, told him how I missed him. Who is to say I hadn’t been there with him, for a while at least.
Dreams are something no amount of physical distancing can ever take away.