As naturally social creatures, human beings struggle mightily with self-isolation. Loneliness has a way of creeping in, but maybe if you hang up Christmas lights amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak like many folks have done, you might find a way to connect with each other while staying healthy.
As health officials for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended that people stay home as much as possible and urge us to practice social distancing to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, the world is feeling like a pretty dark place for many right now. And when you're faced with data from the World Health Organization that shows more than 191,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed around the world, it's understandable that some may be feeling stressed and anxious.
So when Milwaukee Brewers' sportscaster Lane Grindle tweeted about bringing out some holiday cheer right now, the idea took off. "What if we all put our Christmas lights back up?" Grindle tweeted on March 15. "Then we could get in the car and drive around and look at them. That seems like a fair social distancing activity."
Since then, several people have taken to Twitter to share photos of their own Christmas lights turned on in an effort to share some "light and hope," as one social media user wrote.
"There are dark times ahead, but I can still put love & light out into the world," Sarah Bang captioned a photo of Christmas lights. "Some folks have mentioned putting up Christmas lights to cheer up people in quarantine, in isolation, or just to remind the world there’s still light & hope."
"Today a few of my neighbours decided we needed a bit more light in this dark time and decided to turn their Christmas lights back on," another tweeted. "I hope it brings a smile to you face like it did mine."
"My youngest son was bored today and said, 'can we put Christmas lights on our tree outside to cheer us up?' Great idea buddy. Lights are on tonight as a sign of hope and the sweet mind of my 10 year old," one father shared on Twitter.
Isolation is exceedingly difficult for people, even if they know they're doing it to protect people from getting sick. As Science Alert reported in 2019, loneliness doesn't just affect people mentally but physically as well.
And in case you needed another reason to hang Christmas lights in March, experts have said that hanging your lights early can actually make you happier. "In a world full of stress and anxiety people like to associate to things that make them happy and Christmas decorations evoke those strong feelings of the childhood," Steve McKeown, Psychoanalyst, founder of MindFixers and owner of The McKeown Clinic, told UNILAD in 2017. "Decorations are simply an anchor or pathway to those old childhood magical emotions of excitement."
Hanging up Christmas lights won't solve the world's problems, of course, but they could help remind people that there is still a lot of joy to be had and that we're all in this together. And that there are little twinkling lights at the end of this dark tunnel.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.