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So what’s a person to do in an unprecedented time of absolutely necessary “socially distancing” and isolation? 

I invite you to rethink the word “social distancing.”  To me it carries the double whammy negative connotations of fear and “STAY AWAY.”  I’d like to propose we call it “caring space.”  I am 6’ away from you because I care that you stay well.  And I understand that you are 6’ away from me because you care that I stay well.

It is amazing how far and with what power a smile can leap across caring space.  Ditto for looking a person in the face and acknowledging with a glance “I see you.”  Never underestimate the power of making someone’s day and well-being simply by acknowledging to them that they are not invisible.  Especially in these days of fear and panic. So when you do have to be out, boost your well-being and that of those whose paths you cross – even across caring space.

Nature is one of the most underused and underestimated pillars of well-being we have going for us.  Go outside.

We are hard-wired to respond to Nature in the same feel-good physiological way as human social interaction.  Just being in Nature is one of the best stress reducers we have.  Extra stress reduction points if you interact with Nature.  Go outside.  Hug a tree.  No caring space needed.

Our eyes are hard-wired to respond to distance views of landscapes.  We have some of the best views around (ok, I admit I miss the ocean). Cascade of stress reduction hormones and increase of positive physiological health indicators. Go outside.

Our ears are hard-wired to respond to bird songs, the sound of water, and the sound of wind.  Cascade of stress reduction hormones and increase of positive physiological health indicators. Go outside.

Our sense of smell is hard-wired to detect the scent of moisture in soil.  Remember that wonderful smell of spring?  Cascade of stress reduction hormones and increase of positive physiological health indicators. Extra stress reduction points when you put your hands in/on the earth. Go outside.

No matter how you do it, find some time every day to be outside in or near Nature.  It is a hugely important dose of “social” connection, stress reduction, and hence well-being for our bodies.  

Please remember it is both currently safe and encouraged to walk outside every day.  And can be done with another human being!  Which means extra stress reduction and well-being points because of actual human social connection, even if it cannot be physical connection. Walking outside, combined with a buddy plus caring space plus Nature, may be one of the most important things we can be doing for sanity and the well-being of ourselves and each other in these days to come.

Stay well, and when you are not outside, please stay home.

 
Carolyn


Carolyn Hooper Goetinck, MS, FAFS
Certified Health Coach
Certified Personal Trainer
Dartmouth College