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It is safe to assume that many adults today remember being told at one time or another by their disciplining parents, “You are grounded and are not to leave the house.” This typically meant separation from friends, playing outside, and taking part in planned activities. Even if it’s been a while since the age of being grounded, the social distancing plan underway may bring back feelings of “having one’s wings clipped.”

A forced change in a person’s daily routine like social distancing can cause feelings of isolation. The stress, anxiety, and uncertainty of the current disruption in our lives and communities only add to these feelings. We take for granted the simple luxuries we have in life, like the ability to run to the store, attend church, visit a friend, or have a quick lunch at a local café. It seems as if every move made outside of the house is measured against its potential risk. Yes, this is the current reality, and it may feel very isolating, but this may also be the opportune time to slow down, to spend quality time with family, to use technology to reach out to others and to accomplish the things that have been on the “someday” list for a while.

Let’s start with the “someday” projects. “When I have time, I will…” is a phrase often said by those of us who have things we’ve been meaning to get to but never seem to find the time.  For instance, how about the box or boxes of pictures you most likely have stored away in a closet or under a bed?  Why not take the time now to go through them?   You can eliminate the photos that are fuzzy, creased, torn, and those that have become obsolete, like, for instance, the picture of the pelican taken on vacation 30 years ago that you liked back then, but today does nothing for you.  Next, sort the pictures in a way that suits your needs. You may organize them by event, year, decade, or by people.  If you’ve been meaning to divide your pictures and give them to other family members, go for it!  Get the family involved and go through them together – photos are wonderful triggers for reminiscing about life events and sharing family stories.

How about decluttering your closets and junk drawers?!  You can take one drawer, closet, or area each day and sort, pitch, and reorganize.  This will help to keep you occupied while indoors, and what a jump you’ll have on your deep cleaning!  Again, get the family involved.  Have a decluttering party or a cleaning competition! 

Reading for pleasure may also be on the back burner for those with normally busy schedules.  Pick up one of the books you’ve been meaning to read and enjoy!  Set aside a time each day to read as a family.

Get moving and get outdoors.  Take a walk in your yard and notice nature.  What do you see?  What do you hear?  Are the birds chirping?  Is a squirrel jumping from tree to tree?  Let the sun warm your face and body.  Drink in the sights and sounds as you take deep breaths in and out.  Ask other family members to join you and take note together of the world around you.

Even though social distancing is our current reality, it doesn’t mean we should feel socially isolated.  Reach out to your friends and family through phone calls, texts, email, and social media. Why not bring back the art of letter writing?  Stay in touch and share time together at a distance.  Make a special effort to reach out to older family members and friends who may be isolated and alone to help them stay connected. 

Social distancing is a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of disease, but it can also be a gift of time to make time for life and each other.