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Social Distancing and Emotional Well-Being

Social Distancing and Emotional Well-Being

by Madeleine Dow

Global crisis. Staying home. Flattening the curve... Toilet paper.

We’re hearing these words over and over, until they almost begin to lose their meanings. But one thing cannot be misunderstood: We are being instructed to stay at home unless absolutely necessary, practice social distancing, and wash our hands for at least 20 seconds at a time.

Seems simple, right? Well, it might, until you factor in healthcare workers working 14-hour shifts without proper protective equipment, millions losing jobs, and people fearing for their lives and the lives of loved ones… (the list goes on).

Emotional well-being can seem like an out-of-reach goal at a time like this. But, in order to get through this, we are going to need some emotional, mental, and physical stamina.

Some tips on how we can gain a bit of emotional strength at this time include: let yourself feel, stay informed, focus on what you control, reduce anxiety, and be thoughtful. Keep in mind that only you can know for sure what you need to do during this time to stay well, but we think you’ll find this list a helpful place to start.


It’s okay to feel scared.

We are living through a pandemic.

You aren’t weak. You’re responding to these abnormal times as a human. Give yourself time to feel sadness, grieve for what you feel is any kind of loss, and feel uncertainty. Finding the silver lining is important, but you don’t need to be searching for it 24/7.

Finding distractions right now can be helpful (Hello there, Animal Crossing™), but distracting yourself to the point of numbness can be detrimental.

As Dr. Brené Brown put it, “You can't numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions. You cannot selectively numb. So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness.”

It’s okay to cry, scream into a pillow, sit awhile with difficult feelings, or journal it out. Whatever embracing feelings looks like for you is totally fine.

It’s times like these when it’s so important to find a healthy balance between happy distractions and letting ourselves FEEL. Try to be mindful of how you’re feeling and whether you might be doing too much of one or the other.


Information is power.

How can we truly help ourselves and others if we ignore the problems we are collectively facing? We can use information to help ensure we and our communities stay healthy and get what we need. And we can share information to amplify the voices of marginalized groups.

When we learn about the experiences of others, we can empathize with them. And empathy is associated with positive well-being and interactions.

But, when we are constantly bombarded with every piece of bad news on the face of the planet, it can be overwhelming and unhelpful! It is definitely possible to be consumed by bad news.

So make sure you are mentally and emotionally lifted as well. Do whatever you can to bring peace into your life and home.

One of our jobs as good human beings is to lift those around us.

To do that, we must be well-informed of modern day issues, but we must also be taking care of ourselves—mentally, physically, and emotionally.

The line between being informed and being consumed is definitely a gray area and is different for every individual. I’m still figuring out where mine lies. But, I’ve found limiting time on my phone (especially reading depressing articles) can make a huge difference in my day.

Before you fully dive into an article, you can try asking yourself, Does this article contain new and helpful knowledge, or will it just cause my worry to spiral?

Also consider waiting to update yourself on the news until later in the day. Dr. Nikole Benders-Hadi said, “Immediately turning to your phone when you wake up can start your day off in a way that is more likely to increase stress and leave you feeling overwhelmed.”

At least try to avoid looking at news and updates until you’ve had breakfast or a cup of coffee. Your brain will thank you.


What lies within our control and influence can vary greatly between people. It depends on many, many factors. Rather than focus on what you cannot control, it can be life-changing to focus on what you do have control over, even if the list feels very small at times.

Right now my list looks something like this. I can:

  • Choose how I respond to my emotions, especially my darker emotions
  • Create an energy of peace and safety in my home
  • Be a source of comfort and support
  • Work to the best of my ability at my job
  • Make sure my own needs are taken care of so that I can be in a position to help others
  • Reach out and offer support to people who are vulnerable right now
  • Donate to local food banks and charities

So many things are out of our control right now, which can feel overwhelming.

As Steve Maraboli, a speaker and behavioral scientist, said, “Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.”

For example, it can be frustrating to see groups of people ignoring social distancing and galavanting about in your neighborhood (especially when the actions of others can so greatly impact our own health and that of our loved ones). But, unless you plan to kindly educate them on why social distancing is important (which is your right), it might be better for your own mental and emotional well-being to focus on something you can control instead.

Seeking to educate and influence others can be a noble pursuit! Keep in mind the saying: Honey catches more flies than vinegar. A 1,000 word rant on the neighborhood Facebook page might feel sooo good to write, but is more than likely just going to ignite the rebellious side that every human harbors. Think twice before hitting send.

Try as we might, we cannot (and shouldn’t) control other human beings. We can only control our own choices.



Spring is here in most of the U.S., and it’s a beautiful time to go for a walk. Nature is such a simple but effective way to improve mental and physical health and get some healthy sun exposure while you’re at it. (Keep in mind that staying six feet away from other people is the general guideline. But, when walking behind someone, it is best to stay even further away.)

Stay away from crowded areas where there are many people to avoid. If you live in a densely populated area, some fresh-air, balcony yoga might be a better option. Plus, you’ll look super cool. Maybe a neighbor will join across the street.

If you cannot leave the house because of risk or mobility issues, sitting in a chair by a window and feeling the warmth of the sun can be healing as well.

Many studios and gyms are currently offering free classes streamed online. Check your local gyms’ websites! You can also find yoga and almost any kind of indoor exercise on YouTube.


Social health is arguably as important as physical health. Many people feel that talking to a friend or loved one can lower stress levels. One small study found that school children who had a best friend present experienced less change in cortisol levels and self-worth after negative experiences.

Call someone or meet them on Zoom. Even if you have phone anxiety, be brave and make the call! It’s worth it.


It’s easy to binge on junk foods, coffee, or increase your consumption of alcoholic night-caps when looking for a source of comfort during this time.

It’s okay to resort to some of these instantly-gratifying things on occasion. However, it’s good to be mindful that alcohol, many sources of caffeine, refined sugars, and more foods can easily contribute to the very anxiety and depression we’re trying to lift with them.

While experimenting with what seems best for your body, consider eating more unprocessed foods and a whole-food diet and getting your nutrients with plenty of veggies, fruits, and protein. You can limit alcohol as well as switch to other great, healthy sources of comfort like chamomile tea with a bit of honey or dark chocolate covered almonds.

You don’t need to cut out all your favorites, just eat them in moderation. If you’re worried you’ve been snacking too much, try to be mindful of whether you are actually hungry or just bored and need some mental or physical stimulation.

To feel even better, you can research healthy diet alternatives on your own or schedule a virtual visit with a dietician.


According to a meta-analysis in JAMA Internal Medicine, mindful meditation can improve anxiety, depression, and even pain. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and clear your mind by trying to focus on only your breath. Just try it.


Anxiety makes it hard to sleep, and sleep deprivation causes anxiety. Many people find a calming bedtime ritual to be helpful in reducing nighttime anxiety. My personal favorite: putting my phone down, taking a warm shower with a super-sudsy, natural soap, sipping warm chamomile tea, and reading a comforting book.

If nothing helps, ask your doctor if a melatonin supplement is right for you or if there are other sleeping aids you can try. Sleep is so necessary, especially now.


Focusing on the positive in your own life is an incredibly powerful tool. Be thoughtful about how you address social distancing online and with loved ones. Positivity isn’t a cure-all for those who are struggling. Focus on empathy instead.

Many spouses, children, and even the elderly are stuck in abusive situations. Be aware of your neighbors and don’t hesitate to report abusive behavior. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233. All calls are free and confidential.

So many people are isolated alone right now. Many of them were lonely before isolation. Don’t forget them. Please reach out.

Millions of people in the United States have already lost their jobs. Millions more are in danger of losing theirs. Reach out to people you know, offer help if you can, and donate to local food banks.

Immuno-comprised, vulnerable, and elderly people are likely to be more concerned right now about how their health could be impacted. Try to be empathetic in how you speak about the virus around them. Social distancing can save their lives.

Many people with disabilities were already living a life “stuck at home” 24/7. While abled people have an end in sight for isolation (as far away and uncertain as it is), others may not. Be considerate of their situation and send love.

Essential workers in healthcare, grocery stores, shipping, social services, and many other areas don’t have the luxury of staying home. They are risking their lives to give us safety and normalcy.

Public health officials are asking us to stay home for a reason. Staying at home will save lives, slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, and prevent the healthcare system from being flooded with more cases than it already is.


Enjoy this time if you can. See the positivity if you can. But, if all you can do right now is survive, then please just survive.

For those who have recently become remote workers or already were, keep in mind: “You are not working from home; you are at your home during a crisis trying to work.” @neilmwebb

The same applies to anyone working in any capacity, whether it is home-schooling kids, performing essential work outside the home, or trying to figure out how you’re going to pay your bills.

Do your best, but be forgiving of yourself if your “best” is lower than what you’re used to.


Self-care is just as important now as it ever has been. With life being so crazy right now, it can be hard to find time, energy, or even just remember to do things as basic as shower.

I’m a night-showerer. I love to put on fresh pajamas and slip into bed, clean and ready for sleep. But, sometimes if it’s been a long day, just brushing my teeth is all I can muster.

I’m glad I have Lume because, even on those nights, I find comfort in the fact that I somehow still smell good. Even at times I don’t feel 100% clean, I SMELL clean. And that is definitely a win for me.

Lume Deodorant for Underarms & Private Parts works so well because it prevents odor from forming instead of attempting to mask odor after the fact. And it’s been clinically-proven to control odor for up to 72 hours.

And it's a skin-safe deodorant that's great to use anywhere on your body.

Lume Deodorant Wipes are also perfect for the times you just don’t feel like showering and would like just a few quick swipes of your hand to take care of odor.

It’s comforting to know in a time of uncertainty that, when so many things are out of my control, at least I can control the way I smell.

I may be wearing the same sweatpants as yesterday with my ratted hair hanging in my face, but if you sniffed me with your eyes closed, you might guess I’m Emma Watson.

So go on, take care of yourself. Wash your hands, practice social distancing, and don’t forget to Lume.

Did you Lume today?

Disclaimer: See what the World Health Organization (WHO) says about the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, and/or the Center for Disease Control in the U.S. is another great resource.

If you believe you have been exposed to the Coronavirus, you can find WHO’s list of coronavirus symptoms here.

If you are experiencing heightened levels of anxiety or depression, please reach out to your primary care physician to discuss treatment options.

If you're thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, please call 1-800-273-8255. Please know that there are many options and people willing to help, and there are many resources out there.

Madeleine Dow

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