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Published on March 31, 2020

COVID-19 virus 3D illustration

How to Deal with Social Isolation During COVID-19

By Sarah Flynn, MD, Avera child and adolescent psychiatrist

Social isolation for the public good recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and government is challenging.

It is important to pay attention to how you are feeling and take extra care of yourself. Developing and maintaining a routine is important for mental health and a sense of well-being. Write out a schedule, get out the calendar and make a list.

Although many of us are at home with children or being asked to work from home, it is important to get up and get dressed for the day. Of course, there are sweats and PJ days, but getting dressed can impact how we feel. Here are some straightforward considerations for the days ahead:

  • Be mindful of self-care. Aim for a balanced diet with protein, fruit and vegetables. It is OK to reward yourself or indulge, but focus on healthy balanced meals.
  • Regular exercise is important. The increased laundry, cooking and cleaning from being at home is an additional workout, but all of these changes to our routine are stressful. Daily purposeful exercise is important. Get out for a walk, stretch, move. Exercise is a healthy way to manage stress and maintain balance.
  • One person in the household should not be responsible for all of the cleaning, cooking and laundry. Everyone needs to do their part. All family members can help.
  •  Schedule time for work and school, but also make plans for fun. It is important to have something to look forward to every day. Get out cookbooks, games, puzzles and art projects. There are many online sites available from free museum tours to virtual rides at Disney.
  • Get outside. The robins are back. Get your sunshine and breathe in fresh air for at least 10 minutes a day.
  • Stay connected socially. Check on neighbors, especially the elderly. Call and text your friends. Email your coworkers. Check in with people. Encourage your children to do the same. Limits on screen time need to be flexible now.
  • Look for humor. Laugh and be a little silly. This is an unusual time in history and very serious, but it is temporary. Stay informed, but turn off the news when you have learned what you need to know for the day.
  • Do your best. There is no perfect road map for this time. Try to be kind to one another. If tempers flare, take a break and start over. We all need extra understanding and tomorrow is another day.

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