How to Survive Social Distancing

As experts at long-distance relationships, lesbians and bi women might feel prepared for social distancing. Maybe you are using the extra time indoors as an opportunity to catch up on watching lesbian movies and TV shows. But even with all of our practice, this sudden change in the world can be scary and exhausting. Adjusting to life indoors is hard, so here are some tips to maintain your sanity and your relationships:

Manage Anxiety

It is okay to not feel okay. It is normal to feel lonely, anxious, and stressed out during social distancing. Allow yourself time and space to grieve. If you find yourself overwhelmed with anxiety, there are things you can do to help calm down and make the anxiety smaller.

If you are starting to panic, one thing you can do is to try a breathing exercise. One breathing exercise that you can try is called the 4-7-8 technique. Start by sitting comfortably, with your feet on the floor. Breathe out, and then:

  • Breathe in through your nose, counting to four in your mind.
  • Hold your breath, counting to seven in your mind.
  • Slowly breathe out through your mouth, counting to eight in your mind.
  • You can repeat this three times for a total of four breaths.

If you like to visualize, try something like this video, breathing in while the shapes get bigger, and breathing out while they get smaller. You can also try some gentle exercise like yoga, since exercise helps lessen anxiety. Research has shown that keeping a gratitude journal and doing acts of kindness for others also reduces anxiety. If you still find yourself with so much anxiety that it is hard to function, you can look for a therapist using this website.

Maintain a Routine (or Establish One)

Having a routine is one way you can signal to your body and brain that things are normal, even in this time when things feel anything but. When we are depressed or worn down, routine can go out the window, and a lack of routine can lead to more stress and depression. But setting a routine can help fight those negative feelings and promotes mental health. Try getting up, eating, and going to bed around the same time every day.

Stay Socially Connected

It may be called “social distancing,” but this is an important time to maintain your social connections and stay in touch with others. If you normally have a happy hour with friends or coworkers, keep your tradition and have one over video chat. Use apps like Netflix Party to make movie dates with friends or with your girlfriend. Try to call or video chat with people instead of relying on texts or social media, since it is important to see and hear others regularly.

Be Mindful About Social Media

It is easy to sit at home and scroll Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, checking out what everyone else is up to. But psychologists who study social media have found that “passive” use of social media, that is, scrolling and liking but not interacting or posting your own things, is associated with higher levels of depression and anxiety. It is important to be engaging with other people rather than just watching what everyone else is up to. Psychologists have also found that more social media use at night is associated with worse sleep and with more depression and anxiety. Be mindful of how you are using social media; if you decide to log on, be sure to actively engage.

Also, if you find yourself stressed out at everything you are reading in the news, be sure to take a break from it. It is okay to walk away from what is stressing you out. If you want to stay connected and informed, schedule a time in your routine for when you read the news instead of a reading constant stream of it all day.

Get Your Alone Time

If live with your wife or girlfriend, be sure to give each other room, especially if you live in a small space. As much as you love spending time for her, give yourselves time to decompress and unwind alone. You can try regularly scheduling time where each of you are alone in a particular room. If you find that you are starting to step on each others’ toes being around each other 24/7, now is the perfect time to work on your communication skills. Try some of the techniques from this article if you are looking for ways to improve your communication and deepen your intimacy.

Foster an Animal

If you don’t already have an animal at home, now is the perfect time to contact your local shelter and see if they need anyone to foster animals. Fostering is a lower commitment than adoption, and it will provide you and the animal some much needed company during all your time at home. In addition to making the animal happy, fostering is good for you. Research has shown that having animals around is good for our physical and mental health, and taking care of an animal can help you maintain a routine for your day. And who knows, maybe you will find your new best friend.