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Social Distancing, Isolation and How to Survive Our New Normal

by Whitney HadleySurvivor and AYA Oncology Support SpecialistMarch 26, 2020View more posts from Whitney Hadley

With the arrival of COVID-19, we’ve all relearned the important basics we were taught when we first started going to school. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Cough and sneeze into your elbow. Stay home if you have a fever. As cancer patients and survivors, this was all hammered into our minds while in treatment, and, for some of us, this is an all too clear reminder of those days. While we as a community may know the importance of all of these precautions even more clearly than our peers, that does not make this time any easier for us! So, how can we weather this COVID-19 storm? How do we practice social distancing and isolation without losing our minds?

The range of emotions that we can be feeling right now is incredible. In one day I have experience fear, anxiety, sadness, excitement, joy, loneliness, boredom, and emotional exhaustion. This is normal and okay. Now is the time to hone our skills, build our resources, get creative, and try new things.

Take a few minutes to clear your mind of the scary realities of the virus and grab a piece of paper and a pen. We are going to take inventory of our strengths, things that bring us joy, and areas where we need some help.


What Brings You Joy?

The possibilities are endless – everyone has their own things that spark joy in the life. Take advantage of the forced “pause” button and do more of what fills you up.

Areas You Need More Help

When you look at your inventory of strengths and joy-inducers, where do you see gaps? What are you feeling and experiencing now that you need to address? Take out a new sheet of paper and write down your needs. Maybe use the lens of a close friend or maybe even a health care professional. What are the gaps you need to fill and how can you fill them? Start with the resources and strengths you already have. Pencil those in – write yourself a prescription.

Personally, I’ve narrowed my list down to five main pillars that I need to hit each day: movement, connection, nutrition, faith, and imagination. Each day, I have written in my planner one way to address each area. I am making sure that I take breaks in my new work-from-home schedule for meals and to grab snacks. I am trying a new workout program that is an online boxing class (I envision myself punching little COVID emoji characters), I take time to talk to family and friends, I make sure I read something that centers me in my faith, and I’ve been challenging myself to read new books. Each day I have to check off that I have done these things to keep myself healthy – mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

Some Helpful Resources

Delivery services:


Working out at home:

All of the posts written for Elephants and Tea are contributed by patients, survivors, caregivers and loved ones dealing with cancer.  If you have a story or experience you would like to share with the cancer community we would love to hear from you!  Please submit your idea at

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