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Social Distancing Diaries: How people are dealing with the new ‘quarantine’ reality

During the coronavirus pandemic, sheltering in place is the new normal. We're taking a look to see how people are dealing with the era of social distancing.

PHOENIX — Social distancing. With the spread of coronavirus, this term has dominated our daily lives for the last few weeks. Across the United States, people retreated to their homes to self-isolate amidst the recommendations of medical officials to help fight the pandemic.

And this practice is alive and well in Arizona.

Spending each day at home has become the new normal for residents across the state as we anxiously wait for a return to our old routines. 

We’re turning our living rooms into offices, Zoom meetings into virtual happy hours and face masks into fashion statements. It’s been a strange few weeks as the country embraced this new, temporary lifestyle change. 

But how is everyone actually dealing with this time of sheltering in place? Some experts say the coronavirus outbreak could impact our mental health. We took to Zoom to found out. 

Senior Digital Video Producer Gabe Trujillo contacted a few Valley residents to check in with them and see how they are handling this era of social distancing.

How are you doing as you practice social distancing?

It’s been a few weeks since we began self-isolating in our homes and many of us continue to adjust to this new reality. Residents across the Phoenix area adapt to the change, but for online teacher Wendy McFarland, her routine hasn’t changed much. 

“Normally I work at home by myself,” McFarland said. “But now it’s stopping because someone needs a snack or somebody has a question, so that’s an adjustment.”

McFarland added that she watches the news with her kids during self-quarantining in case they have questions. Because these times are so unprecedented, she’s encouraged her kids to journal.

“I think the kids have been more resilient than the adults have, honestly,” she said.

For Product Manager Jeff Buettner, he spends most of his time working from home, but acknowledged that times are definitely different.

“There are spots where this feels very familiar, and then there are spots where this obviously is brand new for all of us,” Buettner said via Zoom conference. “Good days and bad days, that’s for sure.” 

When social distancing took effect in Phoenix, you could certainly classify Barb Peacock’s initial time at home as a bad day. Peacock, a retired teacher, said her birthday was one of the first days of the self-quarantine recommendation.

“I will think of how rotten my 70th birthday was,” Peacock said. “I needed people that day and didn’t have them.”

What activities are you doing to stay busy?

From karaoke to online dating, people are finding different ways to pass the time while sheltering in place. McFarland seems to be handling sheltering in place in stride. She has found her own activities to keep herself and her family active and engaged. Walks around the neighborhood, family movie nights and some arts and crafts are popular activities for the McFarland household.

And for husband and wife Chris and Megan Marohn, they each found activities to help pass the time. Chris, the director of employee relations at ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, turned to video games as one of his favorite activities to stay active while physical distancing. His title of choice? “Skyrim.”

“Skyrim all day long,” he said with a chuckle. “I’m like the last person on the face of the planet to ever find out about this video game.”

He added that on Mondays, he and his brother play “Skyrim” together, a tradition he said will continue after the shelter-in-place order has been lifted.

For Megan, a freelance designer, she took a more creative approach to stay busy during the coronavirus update. She used colorful chalk to turn her catering signs into messages of hope. 

Watch the video below to hear how she came up with the inspirational idea.

WATCH: Megan uses catering signs to write messages of hope

If you need some motivation to get you hyped to try some new activities, this Phoenix lifestyle coach has you covered. 

What will you take away from this time of social distancing?

There hasn’t been a definitive date to signal a return to our old normal, so for now, we will continue social distancing. While we are all in this quarantine effort together, each person has their own perspective on the coronavirus outbreak.

For Chris, an image that he’ll always remember was watching Italian tenor Andrea perform from the Duomo in Milan

Megan said there’s a profound moment from this time that will always stay with her.

“The first time I walked into a store with empty shelves, that really stood out for me, Megan said. “It really hit home when it was more than toilet paper and water, it was food.”

When we get the upper hand and regain a more familiar sense of normalcy, Peacock said she hopes people will take away a valuable lesson.

“As Americans, we tend to go to work when we’re sick,” she said. “We have this mindset of ‘we have to work until the job is done.’ Maybe this will give us the mindset, ‘if you’re sick, stay home.’” 

How are you doing during the shelter-in-place order? What are you doing to stay active? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #BeOn12.

RELATED: #SendTheLove to others while social distancing

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