A few weeks ago, I don’t think many folks had heard the phrase “social distancing.” But now, maintaining safe, hygienic spaces that help limit the spread of the coronavirus is just a part of our lives.
One thing that’s brightened my outlook recently is that as we’ve all adjusted to the reality of this unpleasant situation, folks are banding together in creative and inspiring ways. They’re adapting their habits to ensure the safety of our most vulnerable neighbors. They’re taking advantage of close quarters to spend quality time with their spouses and children. And they’re finding fun ways to use the internet to keep spirits up and maintain a feeling of fellowship that I think is going to go a long way towards helping us through this tough time.
Here are 5 ideas on how to make social distancing a little less isolating.
1. Set a schedule.
We advise all our newly retired clients to set a new schedule that will give retirement a little bit of structure. Doing so keeps new retirees active and engaged as they explore new ways to fill time without their 9 to 5s.
It also helps keep retired spouses from driving each other crazy!
I think it’s safe to say it could be weeks or even months before life gets back to normal. Whether you’re retired or not, you’re going to need to rethink how you spend your days, especially if you’re working from home or still have kids in the house who need help with school.
If you’re struggling to work out a schedule, you can adapt some of the ideas about blueprinting and visioning I mention in my book, Keen on Retirement: Engineering the Second Half of Your Life, to help you and your family discuss what a productive and low-stress routine might look like.
2. Get outside!
This is still a very fluid situation, but as I write this the government hasn’t put restrictions on getting some fresh air. Sitting in the backyard, firing up the grill, or throwing a ball around can help you and any family you’re isolated with get the blood pumping and feel a little more normal.
Depending on social distancing guidelines in your community, you’re probably allowed to walk, jog, or bike through your neighborhood or a park as well. Just remember to keep a six-foot buffer between you and other folks and avoid touching surfaces like fences and playgrounds.
Another idea: driveway block parties! Some folks are setting up chairs in their driveways to say hi – or shout hi – to neighbors without getting within six feet of each other.
Remember, the coronavirus situation is different state to state and even town to town. Check with your local health department for the latest social distancing guidelines.
3. Enjoy some facetime on FaceTime.
You probably enjoy video chatting with your grandkids from time to time. But services like FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, and GotoMeeting can host group chats as well. On our most recent podcast, my co-host, Steve, talked about how he hosted an online “fam jam” that connected him and his wife with their adult children in Wisconsin, Oregon, and Washington. Folks are also using these services to play games, watch movies, or listen to music together.
As you’re working on a new routine, consider scheduling your own weekly “fam jam.” And if you have older friends and family members who live alone, use whatever tech they’re comfortable with to check in as often as you can. Social distancing is going to be especially hard on folks who might feel isolated to begin with.
4. Learn from the best.
Yes, it’s important to stay informed. But if you spend too much of your day glued to anxious social media and news feeds, you’re just going to get more anxious yourself.
Instead, click or swipe over to some of the remarkable ways that folks are connecting, educating, and entertaining online. Many libraries, magazines, museums, and news organizations have lifted their digital paywalls. Artists are offering free online instruction in painting and drawing. Gyms and yoga studios are organizing online exercise groups. Musicians are performing online concerts. World-famous chefs are offering cooking classes. Actors and actresses are reading animated books to children.
These might not be ideal circumstances, but with so many big-hearted pros sharing their skills online, for free, this is a great time to explore a new hobby or dig a little deeper into a topic that interests you.
5. Perform random acts of kindness.
I truly believe there’s real power in putting gratitude and goodwill out into the world. And right now, we could all use some!
In your own home, something as simple as cooking a nice meal for your stressed-out spouse or performing a chore that’s not usually on your to-do list could go a long way toward keeping things upbeat. You might even decide to tackle a cleaning, painting, or reorganizing project together that will freshen up your home.
As for the loved ones you aren’t isolated with, think of little ways to show you care. Commit to those weekly “fam jam” calls. Mail a pie from your local bakery. Send a greeting card or handwritten letter. Check in on your neighbors, especially the elderly or infirmed, and see if there’s anything you can do to help without breaching safe social distancing.
Your community could benefit from some kindness as well. Small businesses, restaurants, and artists are really hurting right now. Buying gift cards, merchandise, and to-go meals can help these businesses stay operational and keep a few more people working. If you’re a Sunday newspaper reader, consider subscribing daily to support the folks who are getting you vital information. That singer you saw in your local café can’t perform live right now, but she probably has an album you can buy online.
For our part, we plan to keep our usual channels of communication wide open at Keen Wealth. We’ll keep in touch with emails, blog posts, and podcasts to share information that we hope helps you cope with social distancing and the other challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. And if there’s any questions you need answered please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
Bill Keen is a CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠ and independent financial advisor with more than 25 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he specializes in providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.
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