One simple way to stay connected during coronavirus crisis

The one simple act that can make a difference as coronavirus hits

The coronavirus crisis threatens to divide communities. Here's one old school way to get the magic back.

The global pandemic of coronavirus has shut global borders, closed down communities and turned supermarkets into a Hunger Games experience.

Are you feeling anxious? I am. My children, my parents, my colleagues ... will they be okay? What happens next? The mild freaked outedness of a month or so ago, when for many coronavirus was a deadly but bizarre news story mostly happening somewhere else, has been well and truly replaced by high level concern all over the world. There's uncertainty. There's empty shelves. There's empty offices and hospitals which expect to soon be bursting.

We have to go back 102 years to 1918's killer Spanish flu to find a situation equal to what the world faces now. And, in a neat twist, there's one small age old remedy that could help in a small but meaningful way in staying connected during the coronavirus crisis.

In times that are "really uncertain", like now, when we're being encouraged to "socially isolate"—who had even heard that catchphrase until recently?—it's never been more important to educate ourselves about how to help our families and strangers.

So reach out. Even when you can't use your hands.

"Everything tells us that having connections is when we feel a sense of wellbeing, and to deny ourselves that connection through literally being encouraged to socially isolate and not touch anybody is going to cause so much stress for so many people," says Sharon Pearson, founder of The Coaching Institute.

"I really feel for people who already feel a sense of aloneness. And now no-one will be near each other during what is a difficult challenging time."

Like some of us, Sharon finds herself away from her usual life and routines this week. Walking down a street in a usually packed holiday town, she saw two people approach each other without even a 'hey'.

Far from staying connected during coronavirus, "They dodged their eyes away as if having a lack of eye contact could somehow protect them."

Now is not when we should lower our heads, says Sharon. That conveys a sense of real alienation and isolation. Let's keep 'em high.

"If ever there's a time for reaching out, it's now. Making eye contact could make a difference.

"Sure, let’s keep a metre between each other but we can close that gap with our eyes and with a smile. It's a free, fun way of staying connected during coronavirus."

Actress Julia Roberts had the same idea, sharing with her Instagram followers on February 15 some words from US online minister Lynn Ungar.

"Sing. Pray. Touch only those to whom you commit your life. Centre down," Ungar wrote. "And when your body has become still, reach out with your heart. Know that we are connected in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.

"Know that our lives are in each other's hands. Do not reach out your hands. Reach our your heart. Reach out your words. Reach out all the tendrils of compassion that move invisibly, where we cannot touch."

This is not forever. We'll eventually be hugging again, clasping the beloved new baby that is your best friend's first grandchild, running an admiring hand over a friend in her signature worn leather jacket. Touching will come back at some point. For now, let's close that gap, urges Sharon: "Coronavirus or not, we're all in this together."