03/25/2020 Mind-Body Health
Social distancing might just be a blessing in disguise! Here’s why.
You are socialized by your caretakers from the day you are born, but what you start to learn is that your external world holds the cues on how you need to be. You take on patterns of behaviors, thoughts, and actions from others to navigate the world. You form a connection through contact, share emotional experiences with others, and bond through gatherings. In turn, you develop a social brain that helps you interpret the world you live in; yet, your inner world often remains a work in progress.
You may have been taught to look to the outside world for the latest fashion and trends, but too often it only leads to a disconnection from yourself. During these trying times, it’s easy to look at what others may do, but you should listen to your own innate wisdom. Checking out the newest restaurant in town or enjoying a night out with friends could have been both exciting and fun, but it also would not allow you to mindfully slow down. This level of stress increases your risk of illness.
It is completely natural and normal to feel out of sorts with the idea of “social distancing”—the idea of keeping your distance. If it makes you anxious, you are not alone. Here are six ways to make social distancing more friendly.
1. Start a Meditation Practice
You might be wondering how meditation is related to social distancing. Social distancing gives you the opportunity to reconnect to yourself. By doing so, you learn how to feel emotionally safe and tolerate (reduce) the number of unwanted thoughts.
Dr. Deepak Chopra writes that “The deep state of rest produced by meditation triggers the brain to release neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins. Each of these naturally occurring brain chemicals has been linked to different aspects of happiness …” (1) Meditation allows you to feel good, which is a welcomed feeling during this time.
2. Spend Time with Family or Yourself
Most of us are used to spending time with friends or family at a popular restaurant. You may gather in groups and mingle over a football game. No matter which neighborhood you live in, there is probably a go-to bar, restaurant, or coffee spot that is your favorite to meet and greet, share a meal with a friend, or enjoy a date night. But with social distancing in effect, you’ll need to find new ways to connect.
You might be thinking, “I am healthy, do I need to be cooped up?” Try to see this as an opportunity to save money and create new ways to connect. Although it is natural to resist, notice what your resistance says to you. Have there been times you have said, “I need to stop spending so much money eating out …”? Well, it seems, the opportunity is unfolding itself now.
3. Take a Walk
Unless you are facing a community quarantine or you need to consult with your physician before starting an exercise, taking the time for a walk, hike, or bike ride can allow you to let go of physical tension that is held in the body and create a healthy habit.
Getting some fresh air and being in nature can give you a new perspective and allows you to tune into yourself. If you are taking the kids along, make it an adventure trip by helping them spot birds, hear sounds in nature, or identify different flowers. You might catch yourself smiling and laughing a lot more.
4. Enroll in an Online Course
Do you want to learn how to meditate? Or understand what to eat to stay healthy? The current health crisis brings the need for self-care and health to the forefront, it gives you the opportunity to become your own health advocate. Learn ways to use meditation, Ayurveda, and breathwork to support your immune system and expand your ability to stay healthy by finding a class online.
Now more than ever, you can reconsider how you want to reconnect to your body and well-being. Simply ask yourself, “Can taking an online meditation class help me reduce my anxiety?” Will knowing more about unprocessed foods be a source for self-healing?
5. Set Up a Dinner Date with a Friend
That’s right. Set up a dinner date through video chat. You might find yourself being creative in all sorts of ways—perhaps, you have already used a platform to get a group together over dinner. What you may find is that your friends will share something about themselves that you have never known before. Why? Typical in-person conversations are often competing with external distractions, such as a noisy restaurant or street traffic. When you and your friends are not distracted, the brain naturally begins to tune in to what is present. You may discover that your friend loves matcha latte after your virtual yoga class. Both of you might decide to create a knock out recipe that you share with all your friends.
6. Start a Conversation
It is not unusual to feel isolated, depressed, or anxious during this time of crisis. Questions like, “When will this all come to an end?” or “What will happen if this continues?” persist. These are normal and reasonable concerns. If you find yourself overwhelmed with these thoughts, notice that you are having trouble sleeping, eating, or functioning, then call a trusted friend, family member, or a therapist. Simply voicing how you feel can sometimes decrease your worry. Reaching out is a sign of courage; it means you are self-aware and recognize everyone gets stressed at times. It is important to seek support when the need arises.
Remind yourself that you’ve gone through other challenges in your lifetime, and this too will pass. You have come through other hardships because you are resourceful and hopeful. You are about to expand your potential even more because you are reprogramming your social nature within—shifting old patterns and creating new habits.
Now’s the best time to write down—even the smallest moments—that were inspiring, joyful, and creative! You will be surprised, when you review your notes two weeks from now, of how much growth has genuinely occurred.
Why Meditate? by Deepak Chopra, M.D., The Chopra Center Online Learning: Primordial Sound Meditation, Enrichment Track.