Making the Most of Distance

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By News Team on April 10, 2020

With our medical experts focused on caring for patients and educating the community, we asked Carilion's social experts to take a break from the high volume of internal, community and media information they’ve been creating in recent weeks to share ways they are coping with the statewide stay-at-home order.

Carilion's Marketing and Communications team (MarCom) is likely the most extroverted group in the organization, and they are practicing social distancing as diligently as they are preaching it.

It hasn't been easy.

But this creative group has come up with some creative ways to not just pass the time, but really make the most of it. Try some of their ideas, and visit our social media pages to share yours!

Stick to a Routine
Planning each day is a common theme for the team, for those with and without children in the home. Structuring your day helps to maintain a sense of normalcy and connection. Daily routines tend to include:

  • Physical exercise
  • Regular mealtimes
  • Time spent outside
  • Time learning, formally and informally
  • Time being creative
  • Time connecting virtually with family, friends or colleagues
  • TV time
  • A regular sleep schedule

Plan out your day the night before and break up the day into small chunks. Taking it hour by hour is helpful, especially if you don't want the kids (or yourself) to plop in front of the tv all day.

For parents, going into the day with a plan can reduce stress. "It's one less thing to occupy our brains when balancing family with work," said Scott Cooper.

Taking a new approach to creating and consuming social media can help us focus on the good things.

Get Outside Every Day
Part of the daily routine for some is an early morning walk, alone or with 2-legged or 4-legged family members.

"Walking with my daughter gives us a positive start to the day, we can watch the sun rise, we get time to talk and we get in some exercise before the needs of the day take over and I’m more likely to think I don’t have time to exercise," said Anne Shaver.
Other outdoor excursions suggested include:

  • Finding new places to run now that the greenways are closed
  • Taking care of outdoor landscaping improvements since there is no gym open
  • Taking bike rides to new places to be reminded that the wider world will be there when we get through this
  • Turning off the music or podcast to fully experience the sights and sounds around you
  • Walking through alleys and along streets you don't know well, with or without a camera

"I've started taking photos with my phone of fun finds on my walks, and I have some great photos to share with others now," said Amy Hoots-Hendrix. 

Use Social Media Differently
Sharing photos with others is just one way the MarCom team has been using the Internet and social media differently.

They use private, hyperlocal groups on Facebook to stay connected with neighbors. This reinforces social bonds while addressing practical realities: someone going to the store can pick necessities up for others, keeping everyone's exposure to a minimum.

One MarCom Instagram user has been sharing pictures from past vacations together with positive messages. 

And this highly connected group of digital communicators agrees on one final suggestion: when it gets to be too much, disconnect.

"Nothing is making people more scared and anxious and unsure than constantly being on social media and news sites," said Katherine Cork. 

Planning "block parties" where everyone stays on their own porch is unusual but can be a lot of fun, and it can remind us that we're all in this together.

Practice Safe Socializing
Disconnecting can be a challenge when we are conducting everything from business meetings to family gatherings to virtual "happy hours" online.

It's easier to connect in the real world when your neighborhood is close both physically and socially. That way, you can agree to meet outside at a designated time and talk to each other from in front of your own houses.

Some neighborhoods have created block-long art galleries to display children's projects; others show hearts or teddy bears in front windows to show support.

One MarCom staffer keeps a supply of sidewalk chalk on her porch that only the children next door use. "I'm not really using my driveway these days, so why not make it a fresh canvas for the kids to use whenever they pass by on their walks?"

Help Each Other Cope
But you don't have to live next door to people to care about them and check on them. 

Elderly neighbors may not be on social media or be able to use apps to stay connected. Several MarCom families have stepped up to check on their neighbors regularly, and when they're planning a grocery trip, to be sure they have what they need. Telephone calls and conversations through the front door are easier for less-connected neighbors.

And remember that everyone is stressed, and many are fearful. The more we can be patient with others and with ourselves, the easier it will be to get through this "together."

Keep Kids Involved
Robert Trestman, Ph.D., M.D., Carilion Clinic's chief of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, has explained how children take their cues from the adults around them about how to cope with challenges. MarCom is finding that not only is it healthy for kids to be informed and involved, it also makes working from home a lot easier. Some ideas they shared:

  • Explaining coronavirus? Time to explain how illness travels and what scientists do to help.
  • Need lunch? Let's look in the refrigerator and see what can be put together to make something at least a little bit healthy.
  • Cooped up? Let's go outside for a picnic and talk about how things change in the spring and what the animals are doing.
  • Feeling anxious? Let's talk about what causes that, how it feels and what we can do to make it feel better, like going on a bike ride.

Learn Something New...and Have Fun Doing It
The new normal combines learning and entertainment in all kinds of ways. And the truth is, we are going to be spending more time on our screens than we'd really like to. So why not make it fun, interesting and a little bit challenging?

Our MarCom team shared the following links to museums and galleries and parks and other websites where they and their loved ones are finding knowledge, beauty and peace. Carilion Clinic does not endorse any of the sites listed and they are presented in no particular order. We hope you enjoy exploring them and that you find something useful as you work to make the most of your time at home too.

The Louvre 
American Museum of Natural History 
The Met 
Google Earth: Hawaii 
Blarney Castle 
The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks
Disney’s California Adventure: Front Row Incredi-Coaster Ride
Ellis Island: Virtual Field Trip
San Diego Zoo 
Georgia Aquarium 
Monterey Bay Aquarium
National Zoo 
National Aquarium
Seattle Aquarium: Virtual Field Trip
The Metropolitan Opera
Mo Willems: Lunch Doodles at the Kennedy Center
PBS Learning Media
Live Music From Billboard
Live Music From Jambase
Go Noodle Exercises
Virtual Field Trips
Apps for Kids With Special Needs
Ideas From the Principal
NASA Media Library
Netflix: Brainchild
Netflix: StoryBots
PBS: Wild Kratts
Virtual Museum Tours
Disney’s Imagineering in a Box
Christmas Movies on the Hallmark Channel 
Google U.S. National Parks Virtual Tours
Cooking With What’s in Your Fridge
SuperCook: Cooking With What’s in Your Pantry
Hiking – Roanoke Outside Foundation
Virtual Field Trips for Kids
Houston Zoo Virtual Field Trip

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 Visit for up-to-date information about our response to COVID-19. Call our Community Hotline for general questions about symptoms, resources, guidelines and more,

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Do not call the Community Hotline to make appointments, or to request testing or test results. For information about COVID-19 and your personal health, talk with your primary care provider