What’s Really Happening to Our Minds As We Socially Distance

Apr 14, 2020

I’ve been running each morning for many years, usually with a dog at my side.  I run opposite traffic in the street so as to keep aware of oncoming traffic. I usually wear a reflective vest, hat, and if it’s really dark, a small led light attached to my chest.  I call it my Iron Man light.  I’m not out to break any records, just love the activity and mental release it provides being out in nature.  I despise running inside, so I’ll bear whatever weather is out all year round in a cold weather climate.  I usually don’t see too many people out in my neighborhood since I’m usually out pretty early usually before sunrise. 


On this particular morning, I got a little later start than usual and noticed a few extra people out.  About five minutes into my run, I noticed another runner in the distance coming towards me as I turned a corner.  I tried to quicken my pace a bit, but with my almost ten-year old dog tethered to my waste, it wasn’t easy.  The other runner eventually passed me of the street, but kept his distance. He said hello to me as he went by, but I still felt the pull of fear that he was too close to me.  He may have noticed my tinge of anxiety as he passed, but I watched him continue to stay on the far side of the street until he was quite a long way from me.  He then glanced back at me and decided it was safe to move to the same curb side that I was running.


Sure, I read the occasional story of small groups teenagers not socially distancing themselves around other people when they are out and about, but most people are literally dodging people like their ready to be stabbed with a knife.


How this time of the Corona Virus has changed a simple activity of running or walking.  It has caused me to reflect on what is actually going on in our minds as we are continually told to keep our distance from people. We are told to act as though you have the virus and everyone else has the virus too.  Those people mean well, but It is causing us insidiously to become fearful or anxious of people getting too close, especially in places like grocery stores. If you’ve ever played Jenga, you know the feeling of trying to pull out that last piece without having the whole tower tumble over.  That’s how we are being made to feel.  We try and get in and out of places as fast as we can without getting too close to anyone. 


With all this in mind, I’ve have decided to shift my mindset right now around this whole physical distancing thing.  And it’s not like most people are out too much in public either with all the sheltering in place, unless you are one of those brave and amazing essential workers.  Yet I think it’s really important to take back control of our mind because it’s so easy to believe everyone else has cooties.  Yes, it’s important to still be aware of our surroundings and where people are at, but you can still keep a TAB on other people in a positive and empowering way instead of one that is promoting fear, anxiety, stress, and worry.  


Here’s how you can keep a positive TAB on others.  The next time you see a live person out and about, keep a TAB on them.



T:  Take a Breath(s).   


            When you see another person when you are out an about, especially when they are closer to you, take a deep breath really feeling the exhale as you breathe.



A:  Appreciate wherever you are at.

            Notice where you are at, look around. If you are at a grocery store, appreciate you have money to buy food and can be at a store mostly full of food.  If you are walking or running, appreciate you are able to move your legs, be outside, and be active.



B:  Beam Love and Gratitude at people.

            As you pass people when you are out, whether they are on the opposite side of the street or on the other side of the checkout aisle, imagine sending them a beam of love or gratitude directly out from your heart.



As you start to keep a TAB on others, notice how you are feeling.


Hopefully when we keep a positive TAB on other people, we can all stop pretending everyone else is going to suddenly turn into Freddy Kreuger. Maybe we can start seeing everyone with fresh eyes, wide smiles, and a new mindset of love.  And if you see me running with my dog, know that I am going to keep a TAB on you!

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