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Social distancing for extroverts

Special to the News Columns

Beth KirklandYou cannot turn on a TV today without hearing about the importance of “social distancing” and “self-isolating.” COVID-19 has quickly infiltrated our society and is seemingly isolating every single person in America. While social distancing is important and a practice that everyone should most certainly put in place, it has made our everyday lives feel like we are in solitary confinement. Although it is important to stay positive, it is easy to feel frustrated, lonely, and upset. I know that I get overwhelmed and anxious with the lack of social interaction, so I have been turning to different forms of mental stimulation to get my mind off things. And by the way, it is also totally OK if you just want to watch Netflix.

I live alone. No pets. No roommates. No significant other. Just me, myself, and I. Last week after experiencing the “new normal” of working from home, I began to do my end of the day activities. I made dinner, turned on Netflix, then proceeded to scroll through social media. While knee-deep in an episode of “Gossip Girl,” I caught myself audibly talking to the TV, as if I had a friend watching the show with me. At first, I laughed it off, but then I realized that it was the first phrase I had verbalized all day. I was not sure which was more alarming — the fact that I had a conversation with a fictional character, or the realization I had not had a face-to-face conversation with anyone in 14 days.

I consider myself to be an overly social person, the true definition of an extrovert. Every now and then I like to recharge in solitude (which includes whatever show I am binging at the moment and my two favorite men, Ben and Jerry), but this quarantine has made me crave social interaction like I have never experienced before. To feel less isolated during this phase, I have explored several options on how to help feel connected in a time that has the potential to make everyone feel as lonely as ever.

Facetime Dates With Friends and Loved Ones

I am guilty of being an avid texter. Have a good story to tell? Text me. Have a question? Text me. Need to be bailed out of jail? (Just kidding, I am not the person to call for that!), but the answer remains the same. Text me. With the stay-at-home orders in place statewide, isolation has shown the importance of really reaching out to speak with parents, grandparents, friends, and the people we love most. We take genuine moments of interaction for granted and these are the moments that quietly slip by and go unnoticed. Facetime has really afforded the ability to connect authentically to the people I love the most, has lessened the distant feeling, and has made the isolation a little less lonely.

Create a Serene Space

Before working from home, my apartment was my serene space. It was my quiet space. My comfort. Now that it is not only my home, but also my office, I had to think creatively to craft a calming space where I could recharge and clear my mind from the day. I am lucky enough to have a usable balcony; however, in the two years I have lived here, it has been a completely neglected area of my home. Once the realization hit me that I needed a separate area to decompress, I got to work adding homey touches. I added an outdoor rug, Edison lights, new cushions, and a fan. It instantly revived the space while giving me a comfort away from my computer and television. I challenge you to create your serene space and share it with us on Twitter @FLBarCFP.

Tackle That To-Do List

Are you a list maker? I am. Every week, I proudly make a list of all the little projects around my home I vow to finish. Cleaning out my closet, organizing my bookshelf, or cleaning out the fridge. The problem is, I am horrible at actually finishing the tasks on that list. With home sheltering orders in place, I have no excuse to avoid these tasks that have been on my to-do list for months. The biggest task I had was to clean out my closet, and I am happy to say that I was able to finally complete it. Once I had two laundry baskets of clothes to donate, I did some research into other organizations that accept donated clothing, shoes, and beauty/hygiene products. While your local shelter is always accepting donations, here are a few other organizations and what donations they accept to give back to the community :

• Dress for Success (workwear)

• Career Gear (men’s workwear)

• Project G.L.A.M. (formalwear and unused/unopened beauty products)

• One Warm Coat (coats and jackets)

• Blue Jeans Go Green (jeans)

• Local Junior Leagues (formal wear for school dances/proms)

Try at Least Two New Recipes a Week

Cookbooks are the best books in existence, and you would be hard pressed to change my mind. However, as much as I love to look at cookbooks and imagine how delicious a dish is, I never get around to using the cookbook for its intended purpose. I am a creature of habit. I stick with the same five recipes I know. Mainly because my dishes never quite turn out the way the cookbook says it should. After about a week into quarantine, I realized that I would not be able to look at the same four walls all day and eat the same meals. I was craving diversity. This led to the challenge of attempting two new meals every week. Cooking has quickly turned into a form of relieving anxiety, as well as providing some new delicious meals. I challenge you to try two new recipes every week for the next month. Share it with us on twitter so we can see your creations!

A few of my favorite cookbooks are:

• Antoni in the Kitchen

• Chrissy Teigan Cravings

• Healthyish

Let’s Get Physical

Elle Woods said it best: “Exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy.” We are all somewhat aware of the benefits exercise gives us, not only physically, but also mentally. The first week of quarantine my only form of exercise was walking back and forth to the kitchen. I did not move. At all. That is 168 hours of being sedentary. I would wake up at 8 a.m. and go to bed at 3 a.m. with two cat naps in between. After a week had passed, I found myself getting teary-eyed over the smallest inconvenience and that is when I decided to put those endorphins to the test. After the first two days of workouts, I could instantly tell a difference in my mood, mental state, and sleep pattern. If a full-blown workout is not for you, I would still encourage you to get out for a stroll around the neighborhood or swim a couple of laps if you have safe access to a pool. Use this time as an opportunity to become in-tune with your body and learn how to truly take care of yourself. Your physical, mental, and emotional health will thank you for it.

It is easy to get caught up in the negative of COVID-19 and the turmoil it has caused to our country. I want to encourage everyone to write down all of the activities you want to do as soon as you can, whether it be going to dinner, planning a trip, or even just hugging your friends a little tighter than usual. Create a vision board. Take this time to reflect on new perspectives and values that can be gained from this experience and remind yourself to not take the little things for granted.

Beth Kirkland is the program coordinator for the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism. She serves as a liaison for the Standing Committee on Professionalism and the Student Education and Admission to the Bar Committee, and she helps plan and implement trainings. Beth is currently a full time student at The University of Alabama.

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