Jottings: Social distancing does not mean social isolation
For a few weeks we have been practicing our new type of social environment, and a new way of negotiating in society. It is called "social distancing" and we try, at all times, to maintain a safe, 6-foot distance from other people. And, we are doing a good job for the most part. We know that we are protecting ourselves and others by maintaining this standard.
But, we are a social people and social distancing does not mean we need to practice "social isolation." In fact, now more than ever, we need to communicate with people. We need to practice physical isolation to keep our spaces safe, but we can keep our minds and moods in better shape during this very trying time by reaching out to those around us. It makes us feel better to know people notice us, think about us, hope we are doing well and reach out to us to keep in touch.
We could smile at people as we pass them on our walks, but now they no longer see the expression on our face, because that is hidden by our masks. And hugging them is completely out of the realm of possibility. We can wave to indicate we see them.
New ways of recognizing people and celebrating are emerging. There are drive-by birthday parties, with balloons and festive signs. Teachers have been keeping in touch with kids by appearing at their front yards. There are virtual graduations. Our first responders and medical personnel are being honored with parades, signs, lines of people (6 feet apart) clapping as they arrive for their long, tedious work to benefit us all.
And, we can rely on the "tried and true" written note or card sent by mail. Who doesn't like to receive a note addressed to them? And that note does not need to be extensive; just a reminder to say, "I want you to know that you are in my thoughts." Phone calls and text messages help to break the long days of staying inside at home. Home-baked goodies left at the front door can also bring a smile to someone's face.
A text message is another method of communication. And, the phone call is my favorite method of all. It is wonderful to hear another voice on the other end just wanting to chat with you. It is an indication that they care and that you are a part of their life. Kind of makes you feel human again.
And for females, there is a rule that it would be best to follow. Do not put on fresh lipstick, or any lipstick for that matter, before putting on your mask. As you adjust it to be sure you have covered your nose and also fully covered your mouth, you will be moving it around to fit properly. When you finally take it off at home, you will find that the lipstick now appears under your nose, and perhaps to the side, as though it is streaming toward you ear!
Sometimes, when going to the grocery store with mask on, driving gloves on and wearing dark glasses it appears that I may be going to rob the place rather than buy lettuce and bananas. However, I know the employees appreciate their customers trying to minimize exposure also.
So wear the proper attire when going out, keep the required distance from other persons. BUT, most of all, remember to reach out to friends, relatives and neighbors by phone, text, note, parade, signs or any other method to let them know you care about them. It is important.
Marlene O'Brien is a member of the Jottings Group at Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.
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