By: Dr. Tiffany Ruelaz
What are some strategies for maintaining connections with others during this pandemic?
This pandemic has been incredibly hard on most people (though not everyone, despite what the media would lead us to believe). As a therapist, one of the most common struggles I am seeing people go through is staying away from friends and family. The way I see Covid-19 distancing is like a spectrum. Meaning, some people have been staying in their houses and having very little contact with people, while others have been living their lives as usual. This difference in reactions is coming from many different places, and not everyone can see all the different thought processes. This has lead to people isolating from some, but not all, which has impacted friendships and relationships. This is especially difficult for people who have trouble with assertive communication. I know the question is asking about strategies to maintain connections. I think that a big part of this is understanding why you might be unable to maintain connections with many of the people you are used to having those connections with. I am going to break this down by categories (despite this being a spectrum), and then give tips at the end of each category for how those types of people can connect to one another. Check out my part 2 for more “types.”
If you are in this category (or know people in this category- which I believe all of us do) it is most likely due to a few different reasons.
Many people live in rural areas that have not been too affected by Covid-19. Due to this, it becomes more difficult to care about what the CDC or government is constricting because it does not pertain to them nearly as much. Now, this has definitely not been all rural areas. The issue with this can easily turn from “It doesn’t affect us” to “Our entire town has it” very quickly for those areas and the lack of precautions (See this for Susceptibility). Some towns recognize this and have been taking higher precautions since the beginning. Other towns have allowed the virus to come and then go, and others have yet to be impacted by it. Unlike cities, the people in rural areas do not get as much traffic from out of town people, and thus have lower chances of getting infected. Due to this, if you are around these areas, it is likely they do not see the need to change their lifestyles or wear masks, because it is barely (if at all) affecting them. Check this out at the CDC website on Rural areas.
“After speaking with multiple people in rural areas (in Arizona) I have received different responses (not all nonchalant). Here are some testimonials I have heard.”
“My husband is so sick he can no longer go to our local stores because no one is willing to wear masks out here.”
“If you are going to come into my [establishment], you are gonna look stupid wearing a mask, no one around here does that unless they are sheeple.” (This comment sounded almost the same coming from three different people/places.)
“I prefer going to the cities to shop because people there wear masks and seem to be taking this more seriously. I like to shop local to keep my business here, but I just can’t risk it right now.”
“Two of our teachers died because of this, it has been really difficult for our town, and it’s crazy that people still don’t believe it.”
“People die all the time, the flu has killed significantly more people, and this is no where near as bad. The city [people] can wear their masks and shut their businesses down, but we aren’t going to.”
“I talked to my doctor friend and they said the masks are just a breeding ground for bacteria, and if we want to get Covid, wearing those things is a great way to do it!”