Staying Connected During a Time of Social Distancing - GatherBoard

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Staying Connected During a Time of Social Distancing

By now you’ve probably received plenty of notices from businesses telling you what they are doing to help keep you safe and to avoid the spread of Coronavirus. This is not one of those notices. 

The question that we are trying to answer here at, Missoula Indoor Ads and GatherBoard is how do we continue to stay connected, socially and emotionally, in a time of social distancing? And while thoughts of a global pandemic can be frightening, another very real issue to consider is how could this is affecting our community financially

In times of stress, we feel the need for fight, flight, or freeze. And we are being told to freeze. Basically to stop everything. “Social distancing.” “Elective isolation.” To work at home is not possible for many people based on occupation or access to remote workstations. The choice to stay away from crowds feels to some like losing the only human contact they have.  To not travel – especially over spring break – becomes complicated for the schedules and finances for all parties involved.

At first, I thought it would be easy to stay home – I already work from home half the time. I had planned numerous projects for my spring break “stay-cation.” At that time, with no verified cases in Montana, we were still not being directly affected. Then the notifications started coming in. First was the email from the head of the department at the University – classes would be taught remotely after spring break. “How would I teach yoga remotely?” But I rationalized, I would find a way. It would still be OK. The University had to be cautious.

Next came the cancellations of eventscancellation after cancellation – with each one my heart sank more. I didn’t think to go to Costco to stock up on toilet paper or non-perishable foods. I took myself out to lunch and noticed the dwindling amount of people in the streets. 

Next came the cancellations of events that I’d been looking forward to in the future, in April and even May, and the social dance I was planning on going to on Friday. 

My job is to make sure event listings on are up-to-date and as accurate as possible. I found myself scouring local news, Facebook and Instagram, and calling businesses with events on our site to see if their events were still happening. It was hard not to get sidetracked by news of coronavirus around the world. 

Fight. Flight. Freeze.  I froze. I found myself incapable of making dinner for my kids or working on all those projects. I just sat on the couch and binge-watched a stupid show, all the while scrolling through various social media feeds. I felt alone and fearful about what will come next. 

What about another choice? FLOW… I wrote an email to my University yoga students to let them know that we would not be resuming in-person yoga classes after spring break. And I realized, as I was writing to them, trying to give them hope and something to help with stress, that THIS is true, and THIS is what we all must do:

We are all in this together. We may not always be able to choose what happens around us, but we choose how we respond. And this might be the most important thing of all. How will you respond? Because we are all connected, we have to act with the benefit of the greater good in mind. That means staying home and cancelling events for now, so that we can slow down the spread of this virus, so that our health care systems can deal with it. That means being responsible, and considerate of others, and not traveling and potentially spreading it around more. 

But it also means supporting each other. Not running out and buying out everything so that others have none. It means finding ways to support local businesses that are being hurt financially by this. It means reaching out and letting people know that they are not alone. And, it means being hopeful, for the greater good of all. Because being fearful only creates more fear. 

Flow. We need to come together, (even if not in close physical proximity), as a community and support each other. Like the people in Italy, who even when they were confined to their homes, found a way to sing and play music together. 

We need to make the shift to thinking about others, doing the right thing for the greater good. Thinking about yourself can cause anxiety, stress, and depression. When you make the shift to thinking about how you can help others, it motivates you to take action. Taking action and helping others not only helps everyone as a whole, but will in turn help you feel better.

Flow. Humans as a species have survived for this long because we are highly adaptable. We are a creative community, full of brilliant, caring individuals. We have to find ways to support local businesses and maintain community connection, even if we have to keep physical distance between us.

Flow. And so, while other businesses may be telling you how they are keeping everything clean and reminding you to wash your hands, we will be here supporting you in keeping community connected and supporting local businesses any way that we can. That means helping you to promote your business and events with indoor and online advertising and free event listings.

Flow. What we need from you is to please KEEP US POSTED on what is going on at your place of businesses so that we can let the community know how to support you during this time. Because while I’m using words like “we” and “community” and “you”, it’s really all US.  

Flow. Together, we can come up with positive, hopeful, creative ways of moving through this challenging time, to a future where we can say we made it through, and look what we did! Let’s find a way, Missoula, like Italy, to sing and dance and play music and live and love not despite this challenge, but because of it – because this is what makes us stronger. 

Flow. Remember, this is only temporary. One day the sun will be shining and we’ll smile and greet our neighbors on the street. We will emerge from this with even more gratitude for our sweet little city than ever.

Flow. Organize events where people can be together in a safe way. Continue to connect. And keep us informed, so that we can keep the rest of the community informed. 

Flow. If you are choosing not to go out, here are a few things that you can do that will still help local businesses: 

  • Focus on buying local as much as possible
  • Order take-out instead of eating out
  • Order take-out and save it for future meals
  • Get food delivered!
  • Buy gift certificates to local restaurants/businesses to use later
  • Get growlers filled instead of having a beer at a brewery
  • Donate to local non-profits whose events you often attend
  • Consider donating your pre-purchased tickets
  • Shop local, online
  • Donate/volunteer at local food and blood banks

Do you have any ideas to share? Please let me know and I will share them on social media. 

Oh yeah, and wash your hands and don’t touch your face.

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