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Updated: Apr 7, 2020

Look for the silver lining in physical distancing

Physical distancing is a relatively new concept. Even the more introverted among us may struggle to deal with its challenges.

On the physical side, restrictions on gatherings mean visits to the gym, yoga studio and ball field are out. On the emotional side, some people especially those who live by themselves may experience deep loneliness. Meanwhile, other households might suffer from a little too much togetherness.

This drastic alteration in our social fabric, however, can come with a silver lining of our own making. Let’s look at how:

Creative social gatherings using technology

People who want to hear a soothing voice or see a friendly face likely already know they can use Skype, FaceTime, Zoom and similar apps to connect. Take these interactions a step further: take turns reading to each other, start a virtual book club or craft night, enjoy music together, or play games like FaceTime charades. Some people are setting aside special online live “happy hours” with friends from their porches and decks over their beverages of choice.

Family focus

Families whose busy schedules have defined their lives can now see what they have been missing. Mealtimes together (finally!) can include family stories that bring everyone closer together. Enjoy fun for the whole family like game night, a dance party, or a karaoke sing-a-long.

Brush up

We all have skills we’d like to get better at or hobbies we’d like to try. Now is the time! There are free videos and inexpensive online courses for just about anything you may be interested in.

Mix it up

Get bold in the kitchen. This can be as simple as trying different add-ins to boxed macaroni, or go big and try your hand at baking bread. Break out those rarely touched cookbooks or look up online recipes based on what’s in your pantry. Get the kids involved, or just teach them some basic cooking skills.

Help is still out there

Some of us may need to reach out beyond our social circles for help. Support groups may not be able to gather in person, so some have moved online to private Facebook pages or video conferencing to connect.

Lametria Johnson, the ParTNers Center’s new Behavioral Health Counselor, is available for one-on-one EAP sessions by phone. Call 615-741-1709 for an appointment.

For people with existing mental health issues or those whose isolation is taking a more severe toll, online therapy might be an option. Optum, our behavioral health vendor, has Virtual Visits available for EAP and behavioral health. Schedule a visit with a psychiatrist or therapist using secure video-conferencing. Call 1-855-Here4TN for more information.

Optum also offers these virtual resources, available through

Talkspace: Online therapy available for all members with behavioral health benefits (enrolled in a state health insurance plan)

  • Communicate safely and securely with a therapist from your phone or desktop.

  • Message a licensed therapist 24/7 via text, audio or video messages within the secure app.

Sanvello: 24/7 on-demand help with stress, anxiety and depression

  • The premium version is free to all with behavioral health benefits. Register using your behavioral health ID card.

  • Members with EAP-only benefits have access to the free, standard version of the app.

  • Clinical tools and techniques to help manage the symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.


It’s a fact: Physical activity helps reduce stress.

MyActiveHealth is available to all State employees, even if you're not enrolled in the health plan:

  • You have access to health education topics, activity trackers for sleep and exercise as well as other tools to keep your physical health on track.

  • Log on to to get started.

These unusual times have inspired many of us to explore online fitness, such as online tai chi, yoga and aerobic workouts. Here are other options that are productive and burn calories:

Be a garage guerrilla

Go through old boxes, tools, camping and sporting gear, and grilling supplies. Use shelving you’ve got on hand, hang what you can from the wall and box up what you don’t need for later donation.

Get homey

Who hasn’t wished they had more time at home to deep clean? Washing windows not only is a workout but a recipe for instant gratification. Wipe down and disinfect doorknobs, light switches, stair rails, counters and tables. Get rid of clutter in cabinets, closets and on counters.

Go outdoors

In many areas, the only restrictions on being outdoors are keeping an appropriate distance and not gathering in groups. So, take a walk. Some are making a point to be on the porch after dinner to talk to strolling neighbors (at a safe distance). Get the grill going and eat outside, or have a lunchtime picnic on your own lawn or a backyard campout. Don’t forget to bring the Frisbee!


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