Social Distance does not mean Social or Emotional Isolation.
Welcome to a strange and unusual time. Hope everyone is doing well in this time of no groups larger than 10 people and stay at least six feet away from people in public (also known as Social Distance). It seems after less than a week of this new normal that many people are feeling alone or isolated. Let’s remember, social distance and avoiding crowded places does not mean we have to be socially or emotionally isolated from others. So, in looking at our Mandt philosophy, what are some things we could be doing?
Always interact with people in a manner that builds them up. Remember, this applies to us as individuals as well as our coworkers and the people with whom we work. The other day was sunny here in Michigan. For my afternoon walk with Marley (one of our cocker spaniels) I decided to drive over to a nearby park instead of walking our neighborhood as usual. The park is alongside a river, beautiful scenery. We saw maybe a dozen people or fewer on that walk, but every single person smiled and gave us a friendly greeting. Have to admit, walking outdoors on a sunny day and saying hi to nice people really builds me up (not to mention Marley enjoyed it).
If you have school age children at home because school is temporarily closed, some parents are already pulling their hair out and realizing that teachers are underpaid. Other parents are trying to enforce a ‘typical school day’ routine, with mixed success if I’ve heard correctly. Why not work on building a positive, healthy relationship. This doesn’t mean ignoring teaching. But, can teaching be combined with relationship building? Think about the kinds of things you learned from a respected elder in your youth. Maybe it was how to bake cookies, sew on a button, change a tire, paint a room, vacuum the floor, etc. Any of these tasks, which are useful life skills to have, could be taught at home during this time period. While doing these things think about the school topics that could be worked in. Many of those tasks include math. While working on them you will probably be carrying on a discussion; there are your language skills (or time to practice a second or third language). Some of those tasks may need preparation and planning; another useful skill. Once the house is remodeled, cleaned, and everything repaired, how about writing cards, letters, or notes to neighbors, relatives, or people in local care facilities (group homes, nursing homes, retirement homes)? They are probably feeling very isolated. Most places are asking visitors to stay away for fear of spreading the virus. Dropping off a bundle of cards and letters would always be appreciated. This could potentially be the beginning of a new pen pal relationship.
Finally, remember people can only give what they have. If you have a friend or neighbor who may be struggling during this time, give them a call. Sit outside and enjoy a cup of coffee with them. We have even offered to care for our neighbor’s two children as she is trying to work from home. The easiest way is to pick up the phone and give someone a call. Just check in, say ‘hi’, ask how they are doing, share a joke, etc. I would probably recommend avoiding topics such as the quarantine, politics, or anything that either of you would find stressful. I had someone in town this week, who I usually don’t do much with on a regular basis, send me a FaceBook Messenger message. He said ‘just checking in to see how you and Kim are doing.’ That was a perfect example for me (and he’s never been through a Mandt class!)
I hope that everyone is staying safe, happy, and healthy! As a community we can all get through this together. As a mass of isolated individuals, the future would be very bleak.
Dr.Dale Shannon – Mandt Faculty