As coronavirus continues to spread, you might be hearing the words “quarantine” and “social distancing.” You might already be under quarantine.
Many scientists recommend self-isolation, whether or not you’re exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus. This protects you and your family from exposure to the virus and helps stop its rapid spread.
But it also leaves us feeling even more disconnected. As schools close and events are cancelled, as normal life grinds to a halt, here are seven ways you can still love anyway:
1. Respect quarantine and social distancing instructions.
Quarantines are one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of infectious diseases like the coronavirus. Viruses love proximity—there is no better way to spread than in a crowd.
Staying at your home base during the length of a quarantine—living and working in the same contained place—is an incredibly practical way to love, protect, and serve your community as much as yourself. It’s also a privilege. Many don’t have the option to work from home.
When those who have the ability to quarantine do so, it reduces the potential risk to those without that option.
2. Look out for vulnerable members of your community.
While you prepare for an extended stay at home, get enough for your family’s needs—but resist the urge to hoard. Hoarding ensures that our neighbors won’t have the same opportunity to take care of their families.
Share with those who have no margin or resources to stock up. Check in on elderly neighbors, local food pantries, and homeless services. The ability to stock up is a privilege many families don’t have.
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3. Have patience with first responders.
Depending on where you live, it might be a challenge to get accurate, timely information from those on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic—doctors, nurses, and community health workers. These frontline workers often have a difficult time getting accurate, timely information to share! Having patience will allow them to continue to press in and do their jobs, which they often do at great risk of contracting the virus themselves.
Have patience with others in authority as they make new decisions that may be inconvenient, too. These measures are meant to protect the most vulnerable and to keep resources available for those who might need them most.
4. Support local businesses during (and after) the crisis.
Many local businesses operate with tiny profit margins. Even a few days without many customers can force some businesses to close. Support small businesses as you can. Buy coffee beans from local shops to grind and roast at home. Get takeout from local restaurants, especially Chinese restaurants that are facing heightened racism.
There are ways you can make it easier for delivery people to do their work without getting sick. For example, pay online where possible (including tip!), so you don’t have to exchange money by hand.
5. Make the most of at-home work environments.
If you’re not used to working from home, it might be disorienting at first to try to do your job in a completely new (yet totally familiar) environment. Depending on your work, some parts of your job might be difficult or impossible to do at home. Use the time for professional development, as you’re able, to build your skills. Watch videos, read articles, connect with others in the field who might also be quarantined and appreciate someone to talk to!
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6. Make the most of being home during the coronavirus pandemic.
Use this unexpected time together to focus on relationships. Before you jump to screens to occupy yourself or others, try something face-to-face. Grab a deck of cards or a board game. Pull out a puzzle. Work on a house project that you haven’t had time to get around to. Look for opportunities to connect and create memories during the time together.
Some colleges and universities nearby might have students who are stuck while classes are paused and travel is restricted. Where it’s appropriate and safe to do so, consider making space in your home for students to stay.
7. Stay in touch with those isolated by the virus.
Technology allows us to stay in touch, despite the distance. It’s not the same as face-to-face contact, but it’s better than nothing—and for some people, it could be a lifeline.
Use phone and video calls to catch up with friends and family. Send cards and handwritten letters and surprise loved ones with a bit of mail.
Don’t just include those in your inner circle. Think about those on the margins, particularly those in nursing homes, jails, and homeless shelters. Decorate cards, send children’s artwork, send a note to let them know that even though you haven’t met, you’re thinking about them.
A quarantine could make you feel like your world is shrinking. But it’s actually an opportunity to widen your circle and to expand your reach. Use the time to connect with those both in your house and outside of it. Look for ways to reach out to others in the community, to support, encourage, and relate.
We belong to each other, whether we’re around the table or quarantined in our homes. Let’s live like we do, no matter the circumstances.