Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Family Forte: 4 Ways to Combat Effects of Self-Isolation

by: Topher Wiles

     We’re mindful of our changing times but not manic.  We’re cognizant of new challenges but not crazy.  We’re focused on the coronavirus, but not fearful.  We’re aware, but not worried.   With that being said, the writers at Family Forte are mindful, cognizant, focused, and aware that families may struggle in many ways over the next few weeks.  We’re prayerfully seeking to give practical advice in accordance with God’s truth to you through our newspaper and blog offerings. 

     One of our concerns for the next few weeks of change in your family life is the affects that can be felt by self-isolation and staying indoors.  In May of 2019 the American Psychological Association gave this warning about isolation in American society.  “Loneliness levels have reached an all-time high, with nearly half of 20,000 U.S. adults reporting they sometimes or always feel alone. Forty percent of survey participants also reported they sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful and that they feel isolated.  Such numbers are alarming because of the health and mental health risks associated with loneliness. According to a meta-analysis co-authored by Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, lack of social connection heightens health risks as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or having alcohol use disorder. She’s also found that loneliness and social isolation are twice as harmful to physical and mental health as obesity.” (https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/05/ce-corner-isolation)

     Wow, social isolation can have inherent health risks just like smoking, alcohol use, and obesity! The CDC’s recommendations of self-isolation during the coronavirus pandemic is great for limiting the outbreak but we’re looking at some challenging side effects that can harm our families.  The good news is, there are ways to combat isolation issues.  Here are a quick four suggestions for your family. 

  • Begin a small group study – While our current government administration is advocating for limiting group interactions of ten people or less, that doesn’t mean you can’t get together with another healthy family.  Pick a family from church or the community and meet together a couple times a week to study a subject.  Pick a book of the Bible, a popular best seller book, or a documentary series to discuss.  Maybe you and a friend can finally work on that car, bathroom, or landscaping project you’ve been putting off.  You can still enjoy that regular social time together without violating the CDC’s guidelines.   Who knows, you may continue that small group effort well beyond the coronavirus outbreaks. (Visit BibleTalk.TV for free study resources.  I know Mike, the author, personally and love his material.) 

  • Get regular exercise – Don’t sit in the recliner all day watching the news.  Go for morning walks with a friend, learn to swing a tennis racquet, or hit the treadmill with a friend on Facetime.  Likewise, encourage the same for your kids with some of their friends.  Enjoy those exercises that limit personal exposure but still give you social time and exercise together.  Just as you would combat the effects of depression with exercise, use exercise as your tool for benefiting yourself and your family.  Having been a high school tennis coach for 8 seasons, I do believe this is a great time to start a morning and evening tennis league in Sparta where people can exercise, socialize, but keep an appropriate distance.  Look for more info on that soon!

  • Get outdoors – Here in the Upper Cumberland we are blessed with some of the best outdoor features to brighten your day and give you a little social time.  Be inspired along with your family as you hike the Scenic Black Mountain Overlook in Crossville.  Go play outdoors as you hike around the top of the Ozone Falls State Natural Area. Stretch your legs on the beautiful pioneer trail at Cumberland Mountain State Park near Crossville. Enjoy the wildlife along the Collins Nature Trail near Rock Island.  Personally, I think it’s hard to beat the glorious rim trails at Fall Creek Falls and Savage Gulf State Natural Area near Spencer and McMinnville.  Go see every major waterfall within an hour’s distance in the next four weeks.  Get outdoors with your family or with another family to beat the negative effects of isolation. (visit these websites for more info:  Unforgettable Upper Cumberland Hikes, 10 Waterfalls Within One Hour of Cookeville     

  • Use that technologyFacetime on iPhones and Macbooks, Google Duo on Android devices, and Skype on PC’s are wonderfully easy ways to connect with your friends and family from the comfort of your home.  Set up a regularly scheduled time to have video conferencing conversations with friends and family during your stays at home.   Make it a point to encourage others through technology and you’ll be blessed. 

Begin now with implementing effective isolation interventions and get the most of this challenging time in our history.  As always, contact us with concerns at topherwiles@spartacoc.com or office@spartacoc.com with suggestions, questions, or concerns.  May God continue to bless you and your family with faith, hope, and love. 

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:36-39
The word “forte” comes from the latin word “fortis” meaning strength.  Our weekly Family Forte article in The Expositor is the effort of family at Central Church of Christ to give your family the love, care, and attention it needs to become a stronger version of itself.  If we can help you in any way, please contact us at Central Church of Christ through email, topherwiles@spartacoc.com, or through our website, www.spartacoc.com.