Social distancing is our new reality. Here's how to utilise that time the right way

Social distancing does not necessarily mean we lock ourselves in our rooms and end it there.
Updated 27 Mar, 2020

We stepped into 2020 a mere three months ago, but who knew the year's most popular phrase would be 'social distancing?'

But here we are, locked in our homes, using terms like ‘social distancing’, ‘isolation’ and ‘quarantine’ more times in a day than we thought—all thanks to a virus that has put our lives to a halt.

While most of us still can’t wrap our head around what just happened and feel like we are in the middle of a never-ending long movie that will eventually end, there is still some solace to be found that we are confined to our homes and rooms for self-quarantine, amid family and loved ones.

Plus, the entire world is in it together and there’s only one way to fight the virus — social distancing.

What is social distancing?

With the outbreak of the new coronavirus or the Covid-19, it is suggested to stay at least six feet away from each other to lessen chances of catching the infectious disease.

Social distancing means deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading the virus.

Some of the most practical and famous ways to create social distance include working from home, closing schools or switching to online classes, staying indoors, limiting visitors and avoiding hugging people and shaking hands.

Related: 'Can I go to the park, can I eat out, can I meet my friends?': Social distancing explained

Don’t go to work. Don’t go for brunch. Don’t go to shop, unless absolutely necessary for food. And for the first time in our lives, don’t visit grandparents, especially if you’ve travelled anywhere, been to a public gathering or been in contact with people who you may not personally know.

They might get upset or not understand it right now but it’s only in their best interest.

And the best (and only) way to create social distance is by staying at home, and for the first time in our lives, we can save the world by doing just that. We’ll be the most incompetent generation if we mess this up.

But it's also equally important to stay sane while one maintains social distance, as long as you remember that spending a few hours on the roof getting some sunlight or sitting in your garage or lawn, will do no harm.

Why is social distancing important?

It’s quite a surprise that urban Pakistan has caught up with the concept of social distancing fairly quickly, but those who may not understand why it’s important should know that Covid-19 transmission could happen through asymptomatic carriers.

This means someone who may not be coughing or have fever can be a carrier of coronavirus and can pass it on to someone who may not be able to fight it.

Matchsticks burn, one stick prevents the fire from spreading —the concept of how to stop the coronavirus from spreading: isolation, stay at home and social distance.
Matchsticks burn, one stick prevents the fire from spreading —the concept of how to stop the coronavirus from spreading: isolation, stay at home and social distance.

While it's most certainly a creepy illness that stays silent in some human bodies and acts like a bomb in others, social distancing ensures that spreading out and maintaining distance helps in bringing the virus and its infectious rates under control, while also easing the pressure on our stretched thin health infrastructure.

Read: Social distancing and super-spreaders: new lingo goes viral

Also, since there is no vaccine for the virus yet, one can only take precautions.

But social distancing does not necessarily mean we lock ourselves in our rooms and end it there. For those looking to utilise this time the right way, here are are some suggestions:

1. Distance physically — not mentally

One of the biggest arguments, when social distancing came up, was how do you maintain mental health?

It's human nature to meet and connect with others. There’s also another argument that questions why this distancing is called social distancing in the first place and not physical distancing?

In times like these, social connections are needed more than ever. Therefore, reach out to others, take the initiative — drop a message, call a friend and connect with your loved ones virtually.

Make a WhatsApp group or a video conference call and remember that we’re all in this together with just some more time on our hands.

Let's use that to connect and support each other. We can all do with a story or two.

2. Learn a new skill

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Recall all the times when you would tell yourself you’ll learn a new language or graphic designing once you get some time. Well, now is the time.

Think of the next few weeks as an opportunity from the universe to do what you always wanted to but never had the time.

Coursera and Linkedin have quite a few professional courses that could benefit you.

3. Stay fit in isolation

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By now most of us are a week or ten days into self-quarantine, working from home and eating carbs like there’s no tomorrow. Agreed, there is no need for a summer body this year (no one’s going anywhere in 2020) but that doesn’t mean we won’t ever need one.

Metafitnosis and PilatesLab are trying to make it easier for fitness enthusiasts to stay fit in the times of corona.

Even if you don’t have a subscription with a gym, if you have time and the Internet, there’s no reason to put on a workout video for 30 minutes and put on your workout wear.

From the way things are going, 2020 may not need a summer body but we’re all holding onto hope.

4. Groove with Ali Sethi

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When all of this is over, if there is one thing we’ll remember, it is that in the darkest of hours, we all turned to artists to entertain us.

Many artists around the world are dedicating their time to entertain followers around the globe and our very own Ali Sethi is doing the same. He’s the first Pakistani singer to have started online concerts to make quarantine easier for those who find solace in music. He even got Farida Khanum, Rekha

Follow him on Facebook and Instagram to catch his live or recorded sessions.

5. Writing in quarantine

Apparently, Shakespeare was quarantined because of the plague when he wrote King Lear. If that’s not enough motivation for writers and artists to create, then what is?

Natasha Japanwala, a writer and educationist, currently pursuing a Masters at Harvard Graduate School of Education, is giving an online writing class titled ‘writing in quarantine’.

Free to join, this class is a great opportunity to not just learn how to write better but a great space for a group of dreamers to get together across geographies to converse, think, write, love and be vulnerable together while making beautiful work.

6. Host a Netflix party

The coronavirus pandemic doesn't mean you can't watch your favourite movies and TV shows with your loved ones. And as much of the country practices social distancing, everyday life is radically changed by the Covid-19 outbreak, even small gatherings like a movie or TV night with friends and family are not the wisest thing to do.

Once again, technology has stepped in and made it possible to host a movie night virtually.

Among other solutions to stream over distance, Netflix Party is a Google Chrome extension that lets you chat with friends while watching a film or series on Netflix. It's easy to set up, as long as everyone has Netflix, Google's Chrome Internet browser and a computer to watch on.

Use Netflix party to Netflix and chill with your friends while staying at home and maintaining social distance.

7. Organise your home

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Since we are all stuck at home for the next few weeks, it’s also a great idea to be productive while at it and organise our homes.

We all have a cluttered wardrobe or a store with things we don’t need. What’s a better time to de-clutter, organise and perhaps let go of something you don’t need anymore?

When we come out of this quarantine, one can hope our homes will look sparkling clean, organised and decluttered.

8. Support small businesses — they need it

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Times like these are tough for the greatest economies of the world but they are brutal for small businesses in developing countries like ours. Many of the small businesses may have to start laying off their employees soon and to change that, we must support and order from small businesses.

9. Build a bigger table

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There’s a running quote that when you have more than you need, build a bigger table, not a higher fence. While this may not be the most practical advice in times like these, it’s also a time to remember that as we binge eat on more than we need, there are people who may start starving soon because they are daily wagers.

Get in touch with Green Volunteers, AAB or Shahid Afridi Foundation to contribute to ration packs for daily wagers. You can contribute time, finances or effort.

One of the nicest things I’ve read in the recent past about the current situation is by Kitty O’Meara who said:

"And the people stayed home.

And read books, and listened and rested and exercised and made art and played games and learned new ways of being and were still.

And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and people joined together again, they grieved their losses and made new choices, and dreamed new images and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”

Let's just wait for that!