How to Practice Social Distancing Without Losing Your Connections

social distance with connection - Davis Phinney Foundation

One of the actions medical professionals suggest we take to help “flatten the curveof the Coronavirus is to practice social distancing: stay away from crowds, don’t gather in closed spaces, reduce ride-sharing, keep your physical distance, and if possible, stay at home.

This recommendation makes sense. However, when one of the ways you live well with Parkinson’s is by connecting with others face-to-face, telling you to practice social distancing can feel like taking away your lifeline. 

Therefore, we want to share five ways you can practice social distancing without losing the social connections that are so critical to your well being.

#1 – Pick up the phone

When you wake up each morning, identify two or three people you’d like to connect with and decide when you’ll call them. Maybe you want to call someone you usually see at your boxing class that was canceled this week. Perhaps you choose to call a new member of your Parkinson’s support group who seems overwhelmed by their recent diagnosis. Or maybe you want to call a friend or family member to tell them how grateful you are to have them in your life. 

If talking on the phone isn’t your thing, that’s okay. You can keep the call short and sweet. It doesn’t matter how long the call is; it just matters that you make it because those meaningful social connections add up and will make a difference.

#2 – Schedule a virtual meeting with your support group

Zoom is one of the most accessible tools available to bring people together online. And better yet, they have a free version you can use to set up 45-minute video calls with your friends whenever you want. We’ve heard from some people who are organizing book clubs and movie watching sessions together, too. 

Here’s how it works:

  1. Go to Zoom and click, “Sign up, It’s free” under the Basic Plan. You can do this from your desktop, laptop, phone, or tablet. 
  2. Follow their set-up process and then schedule your first meeting. You can invite participants by emailing them the link Zoom gives you once you schedule and save your meeting.
  3. Once it’s time for your meeting, log back into Zoom, click meetings on the lefthand side of the dashboard, and click “start.” 

Pretty soon, your screen will look like this. It’s not the same as meeting in person, but when it comes to connecting with people, it can feel just as fabulous.

Zoom meeting view
Photo credit: https://zoom.us/home?zcid=2478

#3 – Invite your exercise instructor to teach a class online

You probably aren’t the only one who is upset your boxing, Dance for PD®, Zumba®, yoga, or cycling class was canceled. Your teacher may be feeling the loss as well. And, if they have the time and technology, they may be open to hosting one or two of their classes online each week until everyone is given the go-ahead to return in person. You never know unless you ask. And, since you already know how to use Zoom, you can help them do what they need to stream their class into your living room.

Note: One of our Davis Phinney Foundation Ambassadors Amy Carlson is holding a virtual dance class on Zoom every morning starting Friday, March 13th at 8:30 am Pacific. She’ll keep the daily dance going until the “all clear” is given. You can join her by clicking here. Thank you, Amy, for always taking action to live well and for your commitment to connecting this community. (Please direct any questions you have about this to Melani at blog@dpf.org.)

#4 – Invite a friend for a walk

There are many reasons why spending time outside is a good idea right now, as long as you feel well enough to do so. Being in nature makes us happier, healthier, more creative, more empathetic, and more apt to engage with the world and with each other.

Furthermore, George MacKerron, an economist at the University of Sussex and developer of the original Mappiness study, discovered through his work that one of the most significant variables that contribute to happiness is not who you’re with or what you’re doing, it’s where you are. On average, people are happier outdoors in green and natural habitats than they are in outdoor urban environments. So, to the extent that it’s possible to surround yourself in green, it would be worth it to do so. To make the experience even better, invite a healthy friend to join you. Connecting with someone else in nature is like living well times 10.

#5 – Don’t bottle it up

If the current health crisis is increasing your anxiety, making you fearful of what may come, and making it feel like you’re slipping into a sadness that’s hard to break free of, talk to someone. Make an appointment with your therapist or counselor, give online therapy a try, or talk to your spouse or loved ones. Sometimes just connecting in this way is enough to bring some peace and ease to your day. But remember, self-care isn’t a one and done thing. If you feel the same tomorrow, try more of what worked today.

We are especially sensitive to how the Coronavirus is impacting our community. We’ve heard from so many who are upset about support group meetings, events, exercise classes, and more getting canceled every day. We know you count on the connections you have in your community as a big part of your living well plan; so, we hope that you’ll feel moved to try at least one of the strategies above. It may take a little more time and effort, but all of the connections you make during this time will make it possible to live well today no matter what changes comes your way.

Want More Practical Articles Like This?

Much more can be found in our latest edition of Davis Phinney Foundation’s Every Victory Counts® manual. It’s packed with up-to-date information about everything Parkinson’s, plus an expanded worksheets and resources section to help you put what you’ve learned into action. Request your copy of the Every Victory Counts manual by clicking the button below.

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Comments (6)

I feel very privileged to live in my own home with the ever dedicated Charlie looking after me. I find my thoughts drifting to other people with Parkinsons who are in assisted living situations, who may have dementia, whose daily routine now lacks visitors or the ability to even go outside. These people, the ones whose names I don’t even know. What can I do for them? I feel their helplessnessand my inability to help them.

Thank you for reading, Carol and for keeping those people in your thoughts. We’ve received many emails about how isolating this global health crisis is turning out to be. People feel lonely, disconnected, and fearful about how long this need for social distancing is going to go on. We have been trying to reach out to those we can and also offer our support to local support communities that want to find ways for people to connect online. I think we will learn as we go. The challenge is finding the people who need us most since all of the normal ways of connecting have been shut down. Thank you for all you do.

Interesting thoughts. We are in for strange times the next few weeks. Feel well.

This was useful and important information…Thank you !! Well done..!!

Good read. But we still need to keep at least 2 meters from our friends while having a walk outside for the best safety.

It’s a great idea to invite my coach for online workout. I didn’t think of it. I am not motivated while doing it alone. Thanks for your sharing!

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