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"This Is Not the Time to Go Underground": Social Distancing, and Mental Health

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During social distancing, psychological experts say talking on the phone or video chatting can be a great way to stay in touch with others.

As Covid-19 spreads, scientists and healthcare providers are worried about more than the physical health of Americans. Experts warn that people need to take care of themselves mentally, as well -- now more than ever. 

Social isolation, a troubled economy, and an uncertain future make for more than abandoned airports and empty grocery shelves. Fear, anxiety, stress, and loneliness are all side effects of the pandemic, and the social distancing measures that come with it. 

But not all hope is lost, according to Dr. Antonio E. Puente, Professor of Psychology at UNCW. He says that even with social distancing, a lot of the things we need emotionally can still be incorporated into our daily routine -- like exercise, structure, and even human connection:

“This is time to increase your communication with others, whether it's through social media, or even just getting on the telephone and calling someone that you haven't gotten around to calling because you've been too busy.”

Puente’s biggest word of advice? Don’t allow your feelings of uncertainty to fuel panic, anger and blame -- and work to maintain a more optimistic outlook:

“What is it that we can learn from all of this? Might we end up saying we came together, we fought together and we're better people as a consequence? More connected, maybe less selfish -- will this be a wakeup call to all of us?”