Slowing Down and Social Distancing

After working from home one afternoon—a fortunate position to be in during this Covid-19 time—I decided a bike ride was a great way to embrace the warm weather. I know exercise is important and I hadn’t been taking the time to work it in. I rode around my small town, biking through the downtown district and nearby waterfront park, grateful to focus on the simple act of pushing the pedals and feeling the fresh air on my face.

Despite the need to stay informed about the latest developments concerning the coronavirus, it’s also important to take a breath and walk—or bike—away from the 24/7 news cycle.

A few events and observations I had on my bike-about-town:

  • Humor matters. In the midst of serious life events, a little levity makes a big difference in our ability to handle stress and anxiety. I see this much needed and clever humor daily while working in the social media realm and appreciate the funny memes surrounding toilet paper and essential businesses. Maybe you need a Quarantini—it’s just a regular martini, but you drink it alone in your house!
  • Sometimes breaking the rules is a relief. Case in point—the group of four guys, a dad included, who were throwing a football back and forth to each other while walking in the road. It was early evening and no traffic was about, so why not? One person greeted me as I rode by and I smiled at their unconventional activity. I also happened upon a man playing music on a type of steel drum called a handpan. I sat to listen, as he unwittingly gave me an open-air concert, and marveled at the unique sound, thanking him after for sharing his skill.
  • I saw a friend walking downtown and called out, crossing the street to have a brief conversation and get an update. But I couldn’t hug her, and it felt strange. This social distancing-in-action reminded me of the importance of touch—hugs, pats on the back, or tousling your kid’s hair. “It’s the little things” we hear about what matters, and I was aware that the freedom to give that seemingly small hug and show of affection is actually a big deal that furthers connection to each other.
  • Let nature be a balm. The air was warm and the waterfront scenery beautiful, so I got off my bike, laid my jacket on the ground, and sat down to do nothing more than admire the sights and take in the sounds. Seagulls screeched and the wind blew waves that splashed against the break wall. Laying back to look up at the sky, I kept my focus on these priceless gifts that will remain constant. (And later that evening, the only soundtrack in my room was the rhythm of falling rain.) Seasons change, thank goodness.
  • Slow down to stay sane. Life is hectic—the news is bad, working from home means juggling priorities while also trying to tend to kids, a grocery run is needed, and…whew. It’s a lot. The pressure can build to the point where frustration and annoyance get the best of us. Maybe it’s time for that 15-minute break, a welcome window to fit in a walk around the neighborhood. If you’re a pet owner, show your pet some affection, as having a furry friend nearby is proven to lower stress. Stand outside and take some deep breaths, listen to a piece of classical music. How about call or FaceTime a friend or family member just to say you’re thinking of them? After all, aren’t these the people we should always aim to connect with, no matter what’s going on in the world?
  • Appreciate the commonplace. For me it was watching a kite being flown by bickering kids, people walking their dogs, and a couple holding hands. 

As your usual work schedule has no doubt been impacted by the spread of Covid-19, perhaps now is the time to consider what lessons can be learned from this unprecedented situation.

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