Judy Moskowitz, a professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University, talks about ways to cope during this time of missing out on our usual diet of social interactions.
COVID-19: Dealing with Social Distancing
Welcome to another in our series of coronavirus episodes of Scientific American’s Science Talk, posted on March 16, 2020. I’m Steve Mirsky.
At this point in the ongoing COVID-19 situation, most of us have been asked to practice social distancing—that is, stay the hell away from each other. And it’s stressful.
So I called Judy Moskowitz in Chicago. She’s a professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University who studies the psychological and physical effects of employing techniques to increase positive emotions—especially when you’re under stress.
Here are those eight things you can do that Judy Moskowitz and colleagues found can increase your positivity, lower your stress—and could even help your physical health:
1. Recognizing a positive event each day
2. Savoring that positive event and logging it in a journal or telling someone about it
3. Starting a daily gratitude journal
4. Listing a personal strength each day and noting how you used this strength recently
5. Setting an attainable goal each day and noting your progress
6. Reporting a relatively minor stressor each day, then listing ways in which the event can be positively reappraised. This can lead to increased positive affect in the face of stress
7. Understanding small acts of kindness can have a big impact on positive emotion. And practicing a small act of kindness each day
8. Practicing mindfulness with a daily 10-minute breathing exercise, concentrating on the breath
That’s it for this episode. Get your science news at our Web site: www.ScientificAmerican.com. Where we’re bringing you the latest news and insights about the coronavirus, COVID-19. And if you want to take a break from the immersion in the pandemic, which is probably a good idea, we have a lot of other fascinating material up on our Web site.
And follow us on Twitter, where you’ll get a tweet whenever a new item hits the Web site. Our twitter name is @sciam. For Scientific American’s Science Talk, I’m Steve Mirsky. Thanks for clicking on us.