As we all know, right now is a very difficult and uncertain time. With the coronavirus spreading so fast, there is a tense feeling in the air. These circumstances increase the need to connect and unify as a community –– but with social distancing, this becomes tricky. Social distancing recommends that you stay 6 feet away from others to slow the spread of any infectious disease. This rule extends particularly to people outside of your household. This may sound pretty restrictive, but complying with it protects yourself and your community from falling ill.
This distance can breed feelings of isolation and loneliness, and compounds the universal stress we are already feeling. We all need companionship, and there are still ways to fulfill your social needs with friends –– from 6 feet away or more.
Go on a walk, or even better –– a bike ride
It is a gift to live in Appalachia at this time of year. The spring colors and blooms are engulfing the town of Blacksburg, making it hard not to want to go outside and experience the beauty. Lean into this, and get out there.
It’s safe and encouraged to be outdoors. Take the time to walk around your neighborhood. Stop and smell the flowers, literally. If you go with a friend, be sure to have some physical distance between yourself and them.
Going on a bike ride is also a perfect way to socialize and get some cardio in. The size of your bicycles ensure a physical separation between you and anybody else. The Huckleberry Trail is great for biking and is conveniently located in downtown Blacksburg.
Have a Netflix party
Being cooped up in the house calls for a lot of Netflix binging, but this is not something you have to do alone.
There is a free extension on Google Chrome called “Netflix Party” that allows you to watch TV remotely with friends. The program makes it easy for you and friends to join a party so that you can be synched whenever you’re watching your show or movie. There is even an option to open up a chat on the side of the screen, so you can discuss what you're watching, almost like you’re in the same room.
Listen to music mindfully
Due to streaming services, most people choose a few favorite songs off an album to listen to. However, this defeats the purpose of an album existing as a cohesive piece of art.
This is a perfect time to sit down and fully absorb your favorite album. Sit back, put headphones in and let the music take you away. Listen to the transitions between songs, the lyrics, when certain instruments come in and go out. All the things you may not have paid attention to before are now the subtleties to recognize.
Have you ever listened to the same album with a friend, and discussed it after? What were the tracks that affected you most deeply? What about the lyrics? This is a great opportunity to connect with others through the power of music.
Eat well and cook
Most restaurants are limiting dining in and exclusively doing take-out. While this can be a treat to order takeout, support local Blacksburg businesses if you’re still in town. Places like Zeppoli’s and Souvlaki are still filling Grubhub and carryout orders.
Treat yourself to a variety of culinary experiences. With this extra time, try out new recipes and take your time to cook. Have you always wanted to learn how to make a delicious Indian curry? What about lasagna? The options are vast. Let your kitchen become your favorite restaurant.
If your ingredients are limited to staple foods like rice and beans, try to perfect your own recipe. There is no reason not to eat well and treat your body kindly.
Write about your experience
Pandemics like the coronavirus happen about every 100 years. This time is historical. It is our duty to document it, in whatever way possible.
Keeping a daily journal facilitates a safe space to express your feelings and keep track of your day-to-day experiences. When this time has passed, you’ll be grateful to be able to look back and acknowledge what you felt.
If you’re a creative writer, the daily news gives plenty of inspiration for a sci-fi story. If you’re a poet, this is the time to clean up those drafts of poems from months ago. If you miss your friends, write a letter or email to them. There are plenty of opportunities to express yourself and get your feelings out.
This is a trying time for the world. It’s important to take care of yourself and not fall into panic. If you follow social distancing guidelines, monitor your own health and limit your time in public spaces, you are doing the right thing. This time will pass, and in the meantime, use your energy to create positivity into the world.