*Note: This was written on March 10. A lot has changed in a week.
Long before COVID-19, I practiced social distancing. In fact, I practice self-isolation most of the time now, and I do it voluntarily. It’s not hard to do, especially if you don’t feel well, which I haven’t for quite some time (allergies, Vitamin D deficiency, a bout with flu, but not coronavirus). Here are the tips I have compiled from my voluntary experience in social distancing and self-isolation, all tried and true.
You don’t have to go to every event or dinner you’re invited to. Your spouse might grow tired of saying, “She doesn’t feel well,” but after a while no one will be shocked when you don’t show up. When you do show up, they’ll keep their distance, not wanting to catch what you have. You might not even get an elbow bump in.[A week after I wrote this, we are now asked to limit gatherings to ten or fewer people.] It’s still important to keep in touch with people so they know you’re still alive; texting, phone calls, email, FB message, Instagram—all those ways are good. But when you’re jonesing for the ones who make your heart really happy, nothing short of seeing them in person hits the spot like FaceTime or any other video chat. Hugs are not included, though, and sometimes we need hugs even more than we need AA batteries on Christmas morning. But hey—social distancing still has its good points.
- Groceries: You can order groceries through a delivery service (I use Instacart, with a membership—no delivery fees) and have meals delivered from restaurants (I use Uber Eats). When you go to the door in your loungewear (not to be confused with a 1970s leisure suit) and the person delivering your food and supplies smiles (because: tip) and asks how you’re doing and you say you don’t feel well, they get out as fast as they can. And that was even before this novel coronavirus hit. Of course, you (or I) will wash your hands before you eat your Philly cheesesteak with extra peppers.
- Other staples: You can have all manner of things delivered to your home from places other than Amazon, and you probably already know you can get practically anything from a printer cartridge to cat food to a zero-gravity chair from Amazon, sometimes on the same day by 10 p.m. Anything in your local grocery store can be brought to your doorstep through Instacart, including kitty litter and ice, which might not immediately spring to mind, and those AA batteries. And yes, you can get a thermometer and Alka Seltzer Plus Cold. You can also order from other stores through Instacart—Costco, CVS, Target, other grocery and wholesale stores, and even liquor stores. (Because: hot toddies.) You can text with the shopper while they’re shopping to answer their questions, and you can see where their car is on the tracking map once they’re headed your way. Why go to the store? Why go outside at all?
- Attire: One thing that is absolutely necessary in this radical brand of social distancing straying over the line into isolation (but nowhere near quarantine, which I wouldn’t make light of) is pajamas. Lots and lots of pajamas. Because if you don’t have to go out in public, why not make yourself as comfortable as possible? My favorite are my flannel jammy pants, white with colored polka dots. My husband calls them my Wonder Bread pants. But, really, a serious pajama wardrobe is necessary. You wouldn’t wear an outfit two days in a row. If you don’t change your pajamas every day, you’re not just socially distancing yourself, you’re edging toward appearing mentally ill. And we don’t want that.
Being at home most of the time, whether it’s because you’re practicing self-isolation or because you’re too unwell to venture out, isn’t ideal. But if you need to do it because of COVID-19 or any other reason, you can keep your house and yourself going—you can keep all of your connections to the world via the Internet and cellular; you can eat well; you can take care of your kitties; and if you don’t have enough pajamas, you can order them and have them delivered to you. The one thing you cannot get through Amazon or Instacart is hand sanitizer– and face masks, of course. But you don’t need them if you’re not going out in public anyway.