How To Deal With Social Distancing (Prisoners Can Help With This!) During The COVID-19 Pandemic    by     Ruth Utnage

Just sitting in your home can only go on so long before you begin to crave human contact, human touch even. I imagine that uncertainty in your life is just as difficult, mentally, as real fears emerge like how to pay your bills, stay safe, stay sane…let me help.

As a prisoner we are experts at dealing with social distancing, unpredictability and the feeling of helplessness. Over time we have used a system of coping with this precise condition that has been passed down culturally since early American slavery. While slavery was abolished, captivity did not and neither did the need to cope with social isolation. In 2020 the same techniques and mechanisms that worked back then are still used today to remain mentally healthy. Here are some things you can do…

1) Learn something: pick a topic that you have had an interest in, like…Sociology (my personal fav), and begin to immerse yourself in its world. You can purchase/check out ebooks, read online journals, or go to a site like the Khan Academy at !

2) Establish routine. Seriously important. When you don’t know what to do, a routine helps. Its the little things. Get up at 5 am, drink a cup of coffee, watch HSN or QVC or work out, groom, shower, get dressed, at 6:30 am make breakfast, make your bed, then clean the house…whatever you do, create a natural order and make it a daily habit so that you have stability that you can control and depend on. Very, very important.

3) Do something to sweat. Work out, jog in place, mow the yard, whatever, just do something to get your heart rate up. It helps relieve stress.

4) STAY AWAY FROM PORNOGRAPHY!!!! Look, this is a touchy subject but self-gratification during isolation as a means to relieve stress is not helpful. Watching or entertaining adult content gives a false sense of happiness that your brain will adapt to quite quickly and because the immediate “feel good” of release produces a major chemical dump in your brain it associates adult material with feel good very quickly…the problem is not the adult content, its that you are more prone to higher stress and depression in the hours post-gratification because the chemicals leave your bloodstream leaving you to crash, like coming down from a sugar rush or the hangover from alcohol. Trust me on this…

5) Chat with people online or via email or video chat or phone.

6) Use your imagination. Create art. Write algorithms. Create business plans. Write stories. Do something that enables creation.

7) Get dressed. Not change from pj’s to sweats, no, get dressed, as if you’re going to work as usual. Even if you’re unemployed, get dressed as if. If that means wearing a suit and tie, then do that. But get dressed!

Do these things and if you have questions or need more specific advice or help, get on my email via, enter my DOC number 823469 and conviction name Jeff Utnage (not my legal name, Ruth Utnage, though you should address me as Ruth, thank you) and let’s chat.

With Love
Ruth Utnage

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To contact me you must be a humanist…

“A real humanist can be identified more by his trust in the people, which engages him in their struggle, then by a thousand actions in their favor without that trust.” (“Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire )

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