How To Adjust To The Culture Shock Of Social Distancing

“If social distancing is taking its toll on your mental wellness—you are not alone”- David Stern, M.D.
I wanted some ice cream yesterday and contemplated what fulfilling that desire would involve in the midst of social distancing.  Interrupting my thought process, I became aware of something familiar.  A sense of deja vu.
It was the same feeling I had several weeks after we had moved to France when leaving our cozy apartment meant venturing out into an unfamiliar place.  It was not fear, but rather knowing the simplest of tasks would take extra effort, and may not yield the desired outcome.  Everything was different and nothing was easy.  It was culture shock.
But here I was in my hometown, in my house, in my kitchen feeling culture shock.  It was both eerie and comforting.  Eerie because the feeling was so out of place. Comforting because I had encountered this feeling before moving from culture to culture over the years.  I knew what to do.

Encountering Culture Shock

Knowing what to do did not come naturally or easily for me.  In fact, I endured it several times without understanding what it was or the effect it had.  My first ever move was from a small town in Kansas to a slightly larger town to attend college at the age of seventeen.  Not understanding culture shock contributed to my dropping out and jumping into marriage.  This led to a move to the city of Denver.
Still no clue about culture shock, things did not go well in the marriage.  Although culture shock was not the only factor, desperate grasping for something familiar, a normal response to culture shock, skewed my emotional stability and decision making in this season of life. I went through it again in a move to southern California after marrying again.  This time, I was in a better place spiritually, and things went much better.

Recognizing Culture Shock

It was not until our move to France that I learned the term Culture Shock.  It was through another American couple that we learned the stages of this experience and how to deal with its effects.  Knowing it had a name, was a normal thing people go through when translated from the familiar to the unfamiliar and that coping skills could be developed, was quite empowering.  It was truly an “ah ha” moment in my life where new skills were developed and fear dispersed.

A New Culture Shock Context

However, having this feeling inside of a place I have lived for over 30 years was a new sensation.  Albeit somewhat temporary, this business of social distancing has changed things.  How much it has changed things, is yet to be seen.  Although I thank God for the internet, Amazon and curb side service of all kinds, life is different.
When I googled this phenomenon, I found I was not alone.  There were several online articles about the culture shock of social distancing.  Why bother to think about it?  This will be over at some point, right?  It depends on what you want to get out of this time, survive or thrive?  I choose the latter and here are some tips:
  • Set up daily routines – I have four daily routines or rituals:  Morning, Workday Opening and Closing, and Evening.  These have changed very little in quarantine since I work from home.

However, the two big factors have been finding online substitutes for going to the gym and accommodating my educator teacher husband’s distance learning from the house.  For the former my gym Planet Fitness is doing online workouts.  For the latter, we got our new boundaries sorted out

  • Revise time expectations for taking care of the basics – Food, shelter, etc.  Our spontaneous trips to the store are fewer and I have used online sources even more.

On the other hand, I have made a point to support local food sources as much as possible.  For example, Elderslie Farm, an upscale farm to table restaurant has implemented family meal take out using local sources for the ingredients.  Using them for our at home date nights supports local food production.

  • Choose One New Thing to Focus on.  I am doing a 90-day online course to tweak my website and platform strategy.
  • Laugh, exercise and eat healthy.  We already did this, but I have been binge watching Jeff Foxworthy and Jeanne Roberson on YouTube.
  • Stay informed but limit how much you listen to, watch or read about the situation.  I personally avoid mainstream media, but choose other more reasoned sources.
  • Define and connect with a core social group.  I already had several of these in place, but my local church has adapted an online presence which has been an adjustment for everyone.  I text, message or call family at least weekly.

The Ultimate Cure

I mentioned before I became more spiritually healthy at one point.  I grew up with and embraced Christianity at a very young age.  Yet, I was unaware of how much I trusted and relied on the familiarity of my hometown culture, routines and relationships.
Nothing wrong in any of those things, but unknowingly they served as anchor more than my faith in Jesus Christ.  Stepping out of the familiar revealed that fact.  A total surrender of my life to Jesus opened up His never changing love and stability where my security rested in Him alone.  This liberating choice is the best I have ever made.
As we enter into the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, I ask, where is your anchor?  Perhaps this is just the right time to reflect and respond.
How  a note in the comments – even unspoken requests are welcome.can I pray for you?  Please place

I am a former air traffic controller, pilot, Aircoupe owner, married 42 years to a great guy. We live in a 125+ year old historic Victorian, enjoy cats, vintage anything, precious friends. My passion is Giving Lost Stories A Voice – Giving Found Materials Fresh Form and Purpose!

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