Question of the Week:
WHAT ARE SOME STRATEGIES FOR MAINTAINING CONNECTIONS WITH OTHERS DURING THIS PANDEMIC?
In the previous post, I discussed some ways that we can reach out and spend time with those we care about who might have a more nonchalant attitude when it comes to Covid-19. Today I would like to discuss hanging out with the people who are in a category that is more in the middle and more strict. These people might be concerned about someone close to them getting Covid, but they are not overly concerned about it themselves. There are also people on the other end of the spectrum who have been sheltering-in-place before it became mandated.
2. Concerned, but not overly concerned.
People in this category can be any age and can live anywhere. This category is split between people who have stricter follow-through with social distancing, and those who do not have as strict of follow-through with distancing. If someone close to you has let you know they are concerned that it could be fatal for them if they contract Covid-19, you probably had to make a decision. You could either no longer see that person, or be very cautious when you do see that person. When we are younger we tend to have higher impulsivity. So many young people have continued to go out, despite having someone close to them who needs them to be careful. This is a decision they are making for themselves, but if it directly affects your family it is important to have thorough conversations (not lectures) about the importance to the family and if they understand the potential impacts of their behaviors. If you are the one who is younger, and you are not planning to see anyone you are close to who this could seriously impact, then be sure to follow public space guidelines. Aside from people who are younger and not as worried about catching it themselves because mainstream media has identified it is not as “bad” for the youth, there are others in this category as well. Around June many people started getting antsy and going out if things were opening up. Some of these people were attempting to be cautious, but not all the way, trying to maintain some level of normalcy.
“Even if I get sick, I’ll be fine. Most people are.”
“It isn’t as big a deal to me, but I know it is to my family, so I try to be careful. But I also have to live my life.”
“I still have to work around people. As long as we be careful it’s fine.”
WHAT TO DO:
Choose your level of risk, and set good boundaries with your friends and family. Bars and restaurants may be doing social distancing, but it is up to you to space out that line in the parking lot (this has been a big problem for businesses). Respect that not everyone is in the same boat as you, and that is okay. If that person asks you a lot of questions, be as honest as possible so they can make an informed decision for their health on whether they are willing to take the risk for their own body. If you are living (or wanting to hang out) with someone in this category, ask them questions and then determine your own willingness for risk. If they went out to a bar and were around 60 other people, or went to the beach, but it has been 5 days since that happened- perhaps you are more willing to take the risk. If you decide you cannot see them, let them know that you are willing to see them virtually. Perhaps you can even ask them to limit their social contact for 2 days prior to seeing you and schedule a date in advance. Do not be offended if they are unwilling to do this, instead brainstorm options with them. Let them know you really care about them and want to find creative options to hang out with them.
3. I care about myself and/or my immediate family
If you are in this category it may be due to you or a family member having one of the immuno-compromised health issues that have been discussed by doctors or the CDC (or just the media in some cases). It might also be because you see the numbers and feel the fear the media and people around you are brining. The first, and more important thing to remember is be ALERT not ANXIOUS. It is okay to be informed, however research takes time (usually things do not get published for years after they have been researched). So, everything you read right now is preliminary in the grand scheme of things. It is for this reasons that many people are polarized.
“I don’t want my [family member] to be in the hospital without me!”
“I can’t even imagine if my [family member] died because of me, I have to be careful!”
“I know that a lot of people can get it and be okay, but we do not know the lifelong effects of this. I am also a high risk, and I don’t want to take the chance of potentially dying.”
WHAT TO DO:
If you are in this group, have patience with the people around you who may not seem “as careful.” For all the reasons listed above, and more, they have a different belief. Ask them if it is okay if you pry a little. Then, ask them some questions about their past 2-5 days. If they choose not to tell you, then you can make the informed decision to only see them virtually, or to ask them to wear a mask. If you are part of a different group, but have a friend in this group then be patient with them. Be as open as you can so they can choose to make a more informed decision about their health. You do not have to take offense if they do not want to see you because you are “too risky.” This is not a usual circumstance and their difference of opinion on your risk level, even if you feel you are not risky is up to them. Respect it. If they want to hang out with you but ask that you wear a mask, this is because they still want to see you but also want to be/feel safe. This is not the same as your government telling you, or the media telling you…it is someone close to you, and let that be okay.
No matter which category you fall in when it comes to physical distancing, remember to respect where other people are at with their views. This does not have to be polarizing, and we do not have to put one another down, or lose friends because of this. Work with one another to find the best fit for you and that specific friend or family member.
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