Over the past weeks, you’ve probably heard the phrase “social distancing” a lot. The term can be a little confusing, especially since it’s new for everyone. We are going to try to clarify that term and explain why it’s important in reducing the spread of COVID-19.
What is social distancing?
According to Canada Public Health, social distancing means:
- Avoiding crowded places and non-essential gatherings
- Avoiding greetings such as handshakes and hugs
- Limiting contact with people at higher risk such as older adults and those in poor health
- Keeping a distance of at least two arms lengths from others as much as possible
Canadian officials are asking everyone to practice social distancing right now. It doesn’t just apply to at-risk people. Even if you feel like you’re in perfect health, you should still practice it.
What’s the difference between social distancing, self-isolation and quarantine?
We’ve heard so many new terms in such a short period of time. It can be hard to distinguish one term from the other and know which one is which.
Social distancing means keeping a physical distance from others. Everyone should be practicing this as much as possible right now.
Self-isolation means staying at home for 14 days and avoiding contact with others. If you have no symptoms, but have come into close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or if you have come into close contact with someone who has travelled, you must self-isolate.
Quarantine or isolation means staying home and avoiding contact with others. It applies to the following groups:
- Those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or who are waiting for their results from a lab test. You should stay at home and avoid contact with others until your Public Health Authority advises you are no longer at risk of spreading the virus to others.
- Travelers returning to Canada must self-isolate for 14 days.
Why do we have to practice social distancing?
It seems counter intuitive to stay away from people at a time like this. Our instinct is to come together in times of crisis, not keep our distance. However, according to experts, social distancing is one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Social distancing is a way for everyone to do their part to ease the burden on our hospitals and the doctors and nurses keeping us healthy.
How do I keep my distance?
Social distancing can be hard for a lot of us! Keep in mind that social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t talk to your loved ones anymore. It just means we have to find new ways to connect for the time being. Luckily, technology has made things a lot easier. Here are some things you can do to make sure you’re practicing social distancing:
- Greet people with a wave instead of handshake or hug
- Stay at home as much as possible, including for meals and entertainment
- If possible, work from home
- Use technology to stay in touch with family and friends
Try seeing some of these challenges as opportunities! Learn new recipes and practice a second language with the help of YouTube videos, which have a wide array of content that would be of interest for anyone, at any age. You might have more time to play with your kids now that you’re not commuting to work. Maybe there is a bright side to this difficult situation.
Here are some great resources to keep you occupied:
Google has partnered with museums around the world to give you an inside look at art and world wonders that might be on your bucket list. You can explore Machu Picchu or admire the work of one of your favourite artists! Check out Google’s arts and culture page to see everything they have to offer.
Break a sweat
Just because you’re stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t work out! Many gyms are now offering classes online. Some are even doing their classes live on social media! You could also use this as an opportunity to try something new. There are dance classes and yoga classes on YouTube that are completely free.
Learn a language
Free apps like Duolingo allow you to brush up on your rusty French or start learning a completely new language.
Keep the kids busy
If your kids are at home, you might be struggling to keep them busy. There are many online resources available to help. Here are a few of our faves:
- BrainPop offers lessons in subjects such as science, social studies and English. This website is free for families during school closures.
- GoNoodle has videos that gets kids active and moving around!
- The Khan Academy offers free daily schedules for kids aged 2-18
If you’re struggling to understand social distancing, you’re not alone. This is a hard time for everyone as we all do our best to reduce the spread of this virus. Take heart in the fact that we are all in this together, and we will get through this together.