How Families Can Cope (and Thrive) with Social Distancing

The Obesity Action Coalition shared that Social Distancing is a new concept for most of us altogether. For the first time in ages, we’re having to figure out how to carry on with life while staying away from the general public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This can pose some specific challenges for families living in close quarters with each other, but it can also provide unique opportunities for bringing families closer together.

OAC National Board Member Ted Kyle, RPh, MBA, points out one of the most common challenges families are facing during this time:

“Lots of us are having a new experience with ‘social distance.’ Who had even heard of that as a good thing until the last couple of weeks? But now we’re learning that it means spending more time at home than we’re used to. It might mean that we can get on each other’s nerves as we try to get things done in unusual circumstances. Maybe you’re getting some unsolicited advice about what to eat and how to be healthy.

For perspective on coping, [we] went to a real expert, Dr. Gary Foster, who is the Chief Scientific Officer for Weight Watchers and Adjunct Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Foster’s advice is to be specific with your loved ones about what’s helpful to you and what’s not. Assume their intentions are good and you may get a better response. Then, when you see them respond or do something you appreciate, follow up. Let them know you noticed and it’s meaningful to you. 

Together, we can weather this interesting time we’re living through.”

Tips for Bringing Families Together:

  • Make mealtimes a shared experience
  • Create a schedule/routine to keep order in the house
  • Create and honor boundaries for family members that want them
  • Do at least one joint activity together each day, like walking the dog
  • Recognize and acknowledge that everyone handles stress differently
  • Devise a plan to keep up with chores/household responsibilities
  • Emphasize the importance of healthy emotional outlets
  • Stay communicating – don’t “social distance” 24/7 within the home

How is Your Family Coping with COVID-19?

Share your suggestions and experiences in the OAC Community Discussion Forum to help other families navigate health and “social distancing” during this time.

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