3 Tips For Communicating Your Need For Social Distancing During The Coronavirus Pandemic

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3 Tips For Communicating Your Need For Social Distancing During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Communicate your need for social distancing without feeling guilty.

Along with physical health, your mental health also takes a toll during the coronavirus pandemic due to stress, anxiety, and fear.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending social distancing, among other essential public health tips, to contain the spread of COVID-19.

As a counselor, I can't help but notice the confusion around what it means to distance yourself socially. I have had clients asking questions that hit home for many people: "I don't want to be rude, but I don't want to visit my mom's house. I'm worried that I might give her something."

As I listen to their concerns, it occurred to me that there is so much misinformation and knee-jerk reactions around what to do during this crisis, especially with communication.

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You don't have to compromise your relationships or communication with your family and friends while you're under quarantine and isolation.

As an expert in relationships and communication, I have suggestions on how to maintain self-care so you can handle real-life situations in the wake of this pandemic.

Here are 3 ways to communicate your need for social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic without feeling guilty or being rude.

1. Tune in to your emotions — such as fear and panic — and honor them, first.

Don't dismiss your feelings. Imagine this: You are supposed to go to a fundraising event and you've been looking forward to it. Your friend is counting on you to accompany her. It was supposed to be a fun night for both of you.

But now you are worried about a large gathering where you don't know who is going to show up. There are no particular guidelines for public events in your small community — yet.

At the same time, organizations nation-wide are canceling more significant events. You don't want to disappoint your friend. So, you try to put your fear aside and force yourself to go.

We like to please others, hide our fears, and push through them. But this is not the time to ignore our feelings. Listen to your concerns. Ask yourself, "Why am I afraid?"

Do you have enough information from your local community about the status of nearby confirmed cases? What are the safety measures event organizers are taking? Did you talk to your friend about your feelings?

You might feel reassured when you have enough information. You will feel more confident to say no when you communicate with your friend. Either way, your feelings will guide you to the right action.

2. Create a list of words and phrases you can use to communicate your need for social distancing ahead of time.

It is a good idea to think ahead. What do you want to say before you meet someone new for the first time?

"I would've loved to shake your hand, but I am practicing precautions. I hope you understand."

You might worry that your friend will be offended if you decline her normal bear hugs.

"Hey, I love you. Let's bump elbows instead. I care about us staying healthy too much. I won't enjoy your hugs today like I always do."

Or if you don't want to hang out with a bunch of people in your friend's small living room.

"I would've loved to attend your party, but I am feeling a bit conservative today. I want to spend time with you, though. I'd be happy if you could go for a walk with me on a later day, instead."

Expressing your appreciation for your family and friends, checking in, and even spending time together are great intimacy builders. Social distancing doesn't mean social isolation.

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3. Know that it's okay to stay in and take care of yourself.

You've been exposed to people all day. You've watched social feeds about the pandemic and how many people are affected by it. Your colleagues are talking about it all day at work.

And you've had it enough.

You feel ungrounded, exhausted, and a bit panicky yourself.

Go home. Take a hot shower. Listen to music to cheer up. Light a candle. Take vitamin C and zinc. Doing whatever you can do to soothe yourself is the best course of action.

Self-care takes on a whole different meaning in times like this. Safeguard yourself from overstimulation. Stay away from too much media consumption.

Reducing stress from the outside world can boost your immunity.

As members of our community, we must take responsibility for our health. We need to be well so we can be there for each other.

Do the best you can to arm yourself with information. Check the source to ensure accuracy.

Communicate your needs and reduce stress by cutting unnecessary stimulation.

Let's make sure that we are responding to this crisis with a healthy and helpful attitude.

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Aiko Takemura is a wellness counselor and coach specializing in relationship and life transitions. She is an expert in personal growth through the alignment of body, mind, and energy. You can find more about Aiko on her website.

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