Christel Oerum shares her tips for staying close, and six feet apart, during COVID-19

Christel Oerum above (Check out Christel’s bio and websites at the end of this post) is a diabetes advocate and fitness trainer who’s been mulling social distancing during COVID-19. Below she shares some thoughts.

Given how people with diabetes – both type 1 and type 2 – can be at higher risk for the coronavirus and have worse outcomes if they get it, I, like Christel, am staying safe by socially distancing and not meeting many people.

Christel: Change is certainly the defining feature of 2020 and that includes how we interact with others, whether that’s family and friends, or the strangers we pass on the street, or in the supermarket.

As COVID-19 has swept the world, most of us have had to significantly change our social habits to protect ourselves, as well as those around us, from exposure to the virus.

And while keeping your distance, and limiting social gatherings and interactions is the right thing to do, it can leave you feeling lonely or deprived of human interaction. So what can you do? We can’t change the world we live in, but we can make the most of it!

My First rule…

First of all, I think it’s important that we each individually decide what our boundaries are and what we’re comfortable with. That’s what I call the First Rule.

For me, my First Rule is I don’t meet up in person with anyone who doesn’t adhere to the California (where I live) social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines. 

I have one friend whom I haven’t seen in person since March, since he still goes to parties and doesn’t wear a mask. That’s his choice, but that means we won’t be interacting in person for a while.

I’m not too nervous about contracting COVID, but I’d rather not, and the thought of having to deal with such an aggressive condition, while managing my type 1 diabetes, is somewhat overwhelming. I imagine you feel the same, whether you have type 1 or type 2.

How I’ve sustained my social connections

Once you have your first rule down, you can decide how to actually see people. Because we as humans are social beings, it’s important we somehow continue our human interactions. 

If your first rule is that you don’t leave your home, we’re lucky to live in a time with a lot of virtual resources. We can connect through our Phones or do video calls through Zoom, Skype, Facetime, or other media. 

I am fortunate enough that I have three women in my circle of friends who are all on the same page on social distancing and mask-wearing. Trusting each other is safe, we’ve been meeting up regularly. I call them my “quarantine crew.”

They are women I know and trust, and I know they respect their own health, as well as mine. In the first month of COVID-19, none of us really left our homes. Instead we scheduled Zoom call ‘Happy Hours’ where we’d chat for an hour or two online. I liked best the calls where we all have our cameras turned on, it just adds to the social experience.

As spring came along, and we became more confident in venturing out, we started to meet at our local park. We brought our own food and drinks and sat in the grass and chatted for hours in a big circle, all sitting 6 feet apart. 

We all missed hugging, but in the early days felt that wasn’t safe, so we implemented our own greeting. Instead of a handshake or hug, or even the elbow bump you’ve probably seen, we created our own greeting: we’d touch feet. Right foot to right foot. I have long legs, so in that way we could still maintain an adequate distance and get the feel of physical human contact. If you have some tall friends, you can give it a try, or create your own special greeting.

As we move into winter it might not be so comfortable to just sit outside, but moving outside with others, as in a walk, combines socializing and exercising. Dress appropriately, including a mask and walk the recommended six feet apart.

There are a lot of things I have had to let go of this year, but I’m glad there are still ways to stay close to people, even when we’re separated by a few feet or a screen.

Author Bio:

Christel is a Los Angeles based speaker, writer, diabetes coach, and diabetes advocate. She has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1997 and at an early stage decided that it wasn’t going to slow her down. Her motto is “There is Nothing You Can’t do With Diabetes”. She writes about how to be Fit With Diabeteson and great food on She also coaches people with diabetes from across the globe, online and in-person, and supports them in meeting their health and fitness goals. 


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