We Now Call This “physical Distancing”

We’ve just gotten used to the word social distancing, but it might be time to move on. At a briefing on Friday , World Health Organization spokesperson Maria Van Kerkhove supported the increasingly widespread change in wording: instead of social distancing, we need to practice “physical distancing.”

The bottom line hasn’t changed: physically stay away from other people. Avoid crowds, gatherings, and any situation where you may be within six feet of others or where you may touch things other people are touching. Measures that provide or encourage physical distancing are part of how China has managed to control its outbreak so quickly . (Extensive testing and contact tracing were other major components.)

But by calling it physical distancing, health officials hope to communicate that we are not trying to cut ourselves off from society. A supportive social life is more important than ever to deal with stress in these chaotic times, which is why we must actively seek social connections.

So write to a friend. Call your mom. Have a virtual happy hour or play a game with pointers on the windows , keeping your distance. Host real-time Peloton or Instagram workout lessons that let you know that you are training with other people, even remotely. Get closer to other people, but do it from afar.

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