By now, we’ve all heard about social distancing. It’s a phrase that, a week ago or even less, probably wasn’t a big part of most of our vocabularies (insert introvert joke here).

Now, turn on the news and hearing it is unavoidable. It’s what we’re all being directed to do straight from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the truth is, it’s the right thing to do.

In the wake of the inevitable spread of COVID-19, most of us are realizing that practicing social distancing isn’t paranoia. Right now, it’s incredibly necessary to help keep the most vulnerable populations safe.

This has been a unique and unprecedented situation.

We haven’t experienced anything quite like this pandemic before. So it makes sense that many of us have needed a bit of time to catch up, especially because each day feels a little different than the day before. The coronavirus continues to multiply. The fact that we’re in the midst of a very life-altering outbreak feels a little more real all the time.

It’s uncomfortable, scary, and confusing. But we need to tune in and listen to the experts now more than ever when it comes to social distancing.

Here are some important things to remember about social distancing:

Postponing any type of social gathering is key.

There’s been a ton of confusion around what people right now should be doing. That’s because each day is a little different, and we’re all just trying to keep up. While as of last week, most schools across the US were still open, this week, it’s a different situation entirely. In many states, only the essentials are staying open, while bars and restaurants have closed their doors. We need to understand by now that this is not business as usual.

Right now, social distancing as it applies to the greater public means no social gatherings. It means no hugs and no handshakes. And it means if you absolutely have to go out, you need to stay 6 feet away from everyone you encounter.

Staying home will save lives.

It’s incredibly anxiety-inducing. But we have to keep in mind that if schools and nonessential businesses are closing, it’s happening for good reason. It’s to prevent people from gathering, so if you’re wondering whether you should be gathering on your own, the answer is no. Social distancing means staying in your home with your family and checking on the people within your circle who may need your help. As far as gathering for social purposes, those kinds of get-togethers should be postponed. Right now, we should be leaving our homes only for necessary reasons, like grabbing a few groceries, quickly and without touching anyone, or picking up prescriptions from the pharmacy.

It is for the greater good.

Social distancing might feel a lot like doing nothing, but it isn’t. It’s actually the most important thing we can do as a society right now. Yes, boredom is coming for us, but if that’s the worst thing we have to confront, then it’s completely worth it. The fact is, by staying home, we’re not just preventing ourselves and our immediate families from becoming sick. We’re helping to stop the spread of the virus, which will, in turn, save the lives of the elderly and immune-compromised.

It’s not the time for playdates.

While at first, parents were planning playdates and meetups to help pass the time, just in the past few days, that outlook has shifted. Now staying home altogether, as well as working from home whenever possible, is being encouraged. Social distancing means that having a bunch of kids in your home who may possibly spread illness, even if no one is showing symptoms, should be avoided for now.

It’s definitely going to get tough to keep kids entertained without the help of friends. For many, coping with bored kids will be the hardest part of staying home. However, having a steady stream of kids playing together will absolutely further the spread of this virus.

If it seems like you’re going overboard, you’re doing it right.

Social distancing isn’t the same as a quarantine. However, it’s not all that far off. Officials are saying that if you feel like you’re acting paranoid, then you’re probably doing it right. You shouldn’t be interacting with others unless you absolutely have to. Yes, it feels strange. It feels like it’s something out of a movie, and it is incredibly anxiety-inducing. It’s important to remember, though, that for most of us, our own anxieties will be the worst part of this pandemic, as long as we stay home and follow the rules laid out for us.

The fact is, these will be challenging times, but keeping our distance is what we will need to do until the spread of the virus has gone down drastically.

It’s time to stop and listen.

The most important thing we can do right now is to put our own opinions aside and listen to the experts. We need to collectively recognize that we alone don’t have all of the facts. The truth is, almost no one does. This is playing out before all of us, and there are still a lot of unknowns. But if there was ever a time to tune in and listen to what we’re being told to do, it’s right now.

And remember that this will pass.

Staying at home and away from friends and, in many cases, family is hard. If we’re temporarily out of work or can’t do most of the things we’re used to doing, there is going to be some discomfort with that. None of us like what’s happening right now, but it’s the reality of life at the moment.

Still, we all need to tune in and pay attention so that we stay up to date with the most accurate information. We will get to the other side, but it’s going to take some time and a lot of patience. Like all things, this too shall pass. In the meantime, slow down, breathe deeply, and stay home absolutely whenever