11 ways to leverage this season of social distancing

You might have been wishing for an impromptu getaway or a relaxing “staycation,” either alone or with your partner, just a few weeks ago… Now, you’re either doing a happy dance or regretting that wish. I won’t make you answer which you relate to right now, but I’d like to offer some suggestions for leveraging this season of social distancing to give yourself and your relationships what they need.

Take care of yourself.

Like the flight attendant’s pre-flight instructions to “Put the oxygen mask on yourself before you attempt to help someone else”, the same concept holds in your home. We like ourselves the most when we’re at our best, don’t we? I think others like us most when we’re at our best, too; and, given the close quarters, it may help to put in the additional self-care to ensure that your quarantine buddy/buddies are getting the best you.

While you may be working just as hard as you always do, you don’t have a commute right now, and your social calendar has likely disappeared. Use those starting points to find the extra time in your day and start using it wisely.

Use your extra time on a “Get To.” What I mean is much of our days are filled with “Need To”s and “Have To”s, so use the extra time on a “Get To,” meaning something you’re excited to do, that brings you joy or relaxation. Here are a few ideas…

1. Sleep in.

We’re all a better version of ourselves when we’re better rested. Simple science here….

2. Move.

Group activities may be canceled, but the good ole outdoors aren’t. So, get out of the house a little! Take the dog for a longer walk, stretch for more than a few seconds, go play tennis (even if it’s on the Wii). Just move more than usual. Simple science here as well.

3. “Get a round tuit.”

We all have some things we’ve been waiting to “get around to.” This change of schedule has afforded each of us several “round tuits.” Now is a great time to devote some time to that project you can’t seem to get to. Set a goal of a block of time most days and have fun!

4. Take on something new!

Maybe it’s a new series you’d like to binge, or it could be a chance to explore a new spot on the map. I know someone who made a list of playgrounds to visit. Pick something that will leave you feeling accomplished at the end of this, and take it on!

5. Grow.

This is a really cool opportunity to become a better version of yourself. Maybe there’s an online course or book that will challenge you. You can add another tool to your toolbox!

Take care of your relationship.

Life is only as good as your relationships. You can enjoy great health, lots of wealth, and if your marriage and other key relationships are not well, you are not well. Your most valuable and critical possession is your marriage. Far too often, it gets our leftovers. Now is a great time to refocus your attention. Your relationship is a living organism. It needs nurture and care.

6. Snuggle more.

Cuddling releases a chemical in the brain called oxytocin, a powerful hormone that leads to feelings of closeness and safety. I suggest starting and ending each day with this gift to one another. If your partner’s love language is physical touch, this one gets bonus points!

7. Play a game together.

As we grow up and fill our lives with more responsibilities, we tend to play less and less. Poke your head in the game closet, and pull out an old favorite to share. Or open up the vast resource that is the Internet and find a new game to learn together. 

8. Stay positive.

Don’t let fear and uncertainty creep in during this crucial time. Stay positive, with your words, and build each other up. There are some things—like “I’m glad you’re the one I get to spend this additional time with,” “I’m proud of you,” and “You look cute in your PJs”—your partner needs to hear from you right now.

9. Trade back rubs and other acts of service.

Give each other something to look forward to each day, even if it’s small. Do the one chore your partner hates doing. Order a copy of the book they’ve been wanting to read. Cook up something special, for dinner! (Your local grocer may be out of ramen, bread, and toilet paper, but they’ve still got steaks!)

10. Put the technology on hold for an hour (or more!)

The technology we have at our disposal will inevitably begin to play a bigger role in how we stay connected, engaged, and entertained, as we embrace this season of social distancing. However, don’t make the mistake of relying on these devices to keep you occupied. Put it away, for at least an hour a day.

11. Grow as a couple.

This is a cool opportunity to become a better couple (sound familiar?). There’s tons of online helps in YouTube (you can check out my channel), or maybe set up an office or online session with me. Think of it as “coaching”. Something doesn’t have to have happened to create the urge to reach out to a counselor.

Hey, who knows? This time could do wonders for you. By taking better care of yourself and your marriage, once you return to the world as you have known it, with commutes and activities and demands, you just might keep some of the positive changes you’ve made.

Rev. Greg Griffin is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and Forgiveness Coach in private practice in Marietta, GA. His specialty is relationship repair and rescue- helping partners, spouses, and parents and their adolescents. He’s also the author of Dungeon Times Survival Guide, and Vital Faith.

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