Here's a Breakdown of What You Should and Should Not Be Doing While Social Distancing

Here's a Breakdown of What You Should and Should Not Be Doing While Social Distancing


With many states and cities putting “stay at home” orders in place amid the coronavirus pandemic, those of us who are non-essential workers have been staying put and social distancing.

The goal of a “stay at home” order is to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by requiring that residents only leave their homes for necessary errands, like buying groceries, going to the doctor or picking up medications. It can all feel very confusing, but a good rule of thumb is that if you don’t have to go out in public, don’t.

Here are some things you should and should not be doing while social distancing.

DO wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds

Washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds is one way to keep the virus from spreading. Plenty of celebrities have shown off their choices in hand-washing songs, in case you’re tired of singing “Happy Birthday” twice.

DON’T leave the house and go to public places unless you are an essential worker or it’s completely necessary

When we practice social distancing, we are not just doing so to help ourselves, but to protect others and to slow the spread of the virus. While you may consider yourself a healthy person, you could be a carrier for the virus and your presence in public places could cause it to spread. That influx of infections causes a surge of sick people who need care from hospitals, and many cannot handle the intake. In short, listen to Matthew McConaughey and stay home.

You can leave the house for:

  • Grocery shopping or to pick up take-out
  • To pick up medication
  • To visit your doctor
  • To drop off groceries for a neighbor
  • To take a walk in your neighborhood (if you can keep six feet away from others)

You shouldn’t be leaving the house to:

  • Go to a friend’s house
  • Go to any kind of event (though most of these across the nation have been canceled or postponed)
  • Gather in any kind of public place

DO take a walk outside (as long as you’re keeping a safe distance from others)


For now, most of us are still allowed to take a walk around the neighborhood while still remaining the recommended six feet away from others. If you can’t take a few minutes for a walk, open up your windows, sit on your front steps and get a little bit of fresh air.

DO call your representatives and ask them what they are doing to support essential workers

Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals are running out of personal protective equipment that is necessary to treat patients and stay healthy enough to do so. You can call your representatives and demand that they support healthcare workers.

DON’T call your ex and ask them how they’re holding up


No matter how lonely you are. No matter how much you want to text them. Just … don’t. Don’t do it. For your own good, we beg you!

DO find a charity to donate to

Looking for a way to support those around you? Support a local business by ordering take-out or delivery (for the love of all that is good, please tip your delivery workers, especially now!) or by buying gift cards to be used at a later date. Many businesses have set up GoFundMe fundraisers for their employees, so consider giving to your favorite small business to keep their employees afloat. Reach out to your friends who are artists or freelancers and ask them how you can support them, too.

When in doubt, if you’re looking to give, there are plenty of charities to choose from. Here are just a few:

  • No Kid Hungry (Kristen Bell and her daughters recently made a donation!)
  • GlobalGiving
  • CDC Foundation
  • Meals on Wheels
  • Feeding America
  • Save the Children
  • The Red Cross

DON’T cut your bangs yourself

Oh, honey. Please, don’t. It’s tempting, but please don’t.

DO take some time to learn a new skill or take up a hobby


Now’s the time to take up knitting! Or to learn how to watercolor! Or to getting really into gardening! You don’t need to feel pressure to create something that belongs in the Louvre, but taking some time away from screens is always a good idea. Plus, taking some time for yourself — even five minutes — will positively impact your mental health. Click here for a list of free skills you can learn while social distancing.

DON’T decide that now’s the time to do something insane with your hair

Like Blake Shelton who, god bless him, decided to regrow his mullet.

DO check in on your neighbors and see if they need you to go to the grocery store

The elderly and immunosuppressed are at the greatest risk of infection, so if you can do so from a safe distance, ask them if they need you to pick up groceries, run an errand or help in any way.

DON’T go to your friend’s house and pretend you’re social distancing


Sure, it’s not fun to sit in your home either by yourself or with the same people for the foreseeable future, but you’re helping essential workers stay safe when you stay home, rather than risking infecting others. A small gathering may not seem like a big deal, but you are still putting yourself and others at risk for infection. May we suggest a virtual happy hour instead?

DO reach out to others if you are struggling physically, mentally or emotionally

This time can be super isolating, but know you’re not alone. Reach out to a friend or neighbor if you are struggling, or if you need professional help. The CDC has provided information about dealing with stress and anxiety.

Your state representatives may be making moves to provide support to you and your city. For example, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that 6,000 mental health professionals have volunteered their time for a new program in the hopes of providing mental health support to N.Y.C.’s mental health amid the pandemic. Residents are able to call a hotline to schedule a counseling session for free.

DON’T tweeze your eyebrows like you tried to in 10th grade and end up with little lines for eyebrows

Let your eyebrows grow, girl. It’s better than the alternative! If you really must, please be sure to cleanse your eyebrows, invest in a quality tweezers and watch many, many YouTube tutorials before attempting.

DON’T let working from home change your whole routine

The number-one piece of advice from those who’ve worked from home before is to keep up your routine no matter what. Don’t let the fact that your commute from your bed to your desk is .3 seconds versus 30 minutes change your morning. Get up, brush your teeth, work out, shower — do whatever you need to in order to set yourself up for success and keep a sense of normalcy. For more work from home tips, click here.

DO mute your microphone when you get on a conference call

We’ve all done it, even Reese Witherspoon, but let this be a reminder: MUTE. YOURSELF.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.

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