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The following article appears in the Spring 2020 issue of Family Safety & Health and represents the type of information your employees and their families can learn about each quarter to help them stay safe while off the job.

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Stay Connected While Keeping a Distance

Even though we know we’re doing it for the safety of our family, friends, co-workers and communities, maintaining a physical distance from people “can be tough,” says Jagdish Khubchandani, a health sciences professor at Ball State University.

You may need to give yourself an extra push on some days, but by making an effort to do something positive every day, you can stay connected and still maintain a physical distance.

Here, we share a number of things Khubchandani says you can do.

  • Go for a walk outside. Even a short trip around the block gives you a chance to see and talk to your neighbors at a safe distance.
  • Maintain a routine. Tempting as it may be to head to the couch for a nap, try to keep your usual working hours and daily activities. Don’t oversleep, but try to get at least seven hours a day.
  • Take time to focus on your personal health and habits. Lots of free workout sessions are being offered online – this is a great opportunity to try something new.
  • Cook. How about trying a new recipe? Or why not join the many people who are giving bread baking a try? Like them, you can share your successes (and funny failures) on social media.
  • Participate in activities that will keep your mind active. Listen to music, try yoga or meditation, take virtual tours of museums, sketch or paint, read or solve puzzles, or play board games.
  • Try not to let anxiety lead to overeating. This can be a challenge if you’re working at your kitchen table – steps away from your pantry and fridge. But binge eating (or drinking) won’t make you feel good for long. This might be a good time to step away and take that walk around the block.
  • Use available technology to work, attend meetings and stay connected with co-workers. But be patient and understanding: For parents of young kids or caregivers for aging parents, this isn’t a typical work-from-home situation.
  • Don’t let physical distancing lead to an unhealthy life on social media. Stay informed about how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe, but know social media is full of misinformation – and by sharing rumors and unconfirmed information, you may unintentionally become part of the problem. Think before you post.
  • Use extra time to tackle spring cleaning and clear clutter. You’ll feel better when you get it done.
  • Think of physical distancing as an opportunity for self-improvement. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn a new language or wish your presentation skills were stronger. How about taking an online class?
  • Limit your screen time. Except for one to two times a day to watch, read or listen to national news for general consumption and local news for updates on the spread of COVID-19 in your community, you’re likely overconsuming information and taking away time for yourself and from friends and family, Khubchandani says.
  • Help others. If you have neighbors who are alone or elderly or who may have trouble putting a meal together, why not drop off dinner on their doorstep? And if you’ve got the financial means, consider donating to food banks or charities that provide meals to folks who need one. Lots of people are struggling right now.
  • Call friends and family to check on their well-being. Physical distancing can cause anxiety and depression because of disruption to routines, isolation and fear. Help is available – for them and for you.

It’s important to not let physical distancing become social isolation, Khubchandani says. By staying connected, we can help ourselves and others get through challenging times.

“Don’t be afraid, don’t panic and do keep communicating with others,” he said.

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Note: Although the information and recommendations contained in this article have been compiled from sources believed to be reliable, the National Safety Council makes no guarantee as to, and assumes no responsibility for, the correctness, sufficiency or completeness of such information or recommendations. Other or additional safety measures may be required under particular circumstances. This material may not be reproduced in any fashion without the National Safety Council’s permission.

The ABCs of Online Research

To evaluate the credibility of a website or online article, Christine Caufield-Noll, manager of the Harrison Medical Library and the Community Health Library at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, recommends looking for the ABCs:


Authority: Who owns or pays for the website – a nationally recognized medical center, a for-profit company, an individual? Who created the content – was it written or reviewed by a physician, dietitian or other expert credentialed in the subject area?


“It should be clear where that information is coming from,” Caufield-Noll said. If in doubt, check the “About Us” section of the website.


Bias: Is the website or article selling a product or service, or pushing a particular treatment or agenda? Are advertisements clearly marked and separate from the rest of the content, and is the site’s advertising policy posted?


“If a website only mentions one side of the story, that’s a red flag,” Caufield-Noll said. “I like to tell people to look at a couple of different websites. Are they saying vastly different things about the same topic, or are they all recommending the same thing? That can give you an idea of whether a site is biased.”


Currency: Look for a date. When was the article published or the website last updated? If the information is more than 5 years old, look for something more recent, Caufield-Noll said.


“New information is always being put out there, and new discoveries are always being made,” she said.