Q: A lot of it has to do with other people not taking COVID-19 as seriously as me. What can I do?
A: Feel all the feels, engage in meaningful interactions, and focus on you.
😤 FEEL ALL THE FEELS:
Remember the movie Inside Out? Joy, sadness, anger, grief, and disgust all have a role to play. It is OK to feel angry. Embrace the feeling, notice why you are feeling it, consider what you can do about it, and then let it go. Having both positive and negative emotions is important for mental wellness. Think about the role that anger plays and what it means to you? Why are you angry? For example: If you are angry about other people having gatherings, consider why. Maybe it is because you are also feeling the loss of seeing loved ones. And maybe you can focus on how this loss is affecting you rather than on why others are not listening to your feedback.
🤝 ENGAGE IN MEANINGFUL INTERACTIONS:
One of the downsides of social media and the digital world is that we make quick judgements based on what we see. Maybe it seems like people have been going out to bars and restaurants or gathering with groups of people, but really they are posting old photos. Or maybe people appear to be living a “normal life” on Instagram, but in reality they only get out once a week like many of us. So instead of engaging via social media, engage in meaningful conversations in real life (even via phone, zoom, or text) with your loved ones and ask them about their behaviors.
Try to understand why they are making certain choices. Listen more than talk. Let them know that you can relate to their frustration about the consequences of the pandemic. At the same time, provide as much support as you can for translating the evidence and searching verifiable sources to guide their interactions. Check out our colleagues Your Local Epidemiologist, Friendly Neighbor Epidemiologist, or Impact (and of course there are others too!). You can also point them to the CDC and state/local public health departments (like the Pennsylvania Department of Health, yay PA!). If you aren’t able to change their behavior, don’t give up. Most people need to hear something often and engage in conversations many times before they change behavior. And you can continue to focus on serving as a great role model for the behaviors you would like to see (You can find some great tips here.)
✔️ FOCUS ON YOU:
Given the magnitude of stress associated with the pandemic and its widespread nature, it is important that we focus on what we can each do to improve our own mental wellness. Managing anger is just a part of this. Underneath that anger and observed behaviors are reasons for how we feel and act, often influenced by our own state of well-being. So we can work on ourselves first (See one of our previous posts for tips here.)
And at the same time, if you have a little extra energy left over, you can support others. A great evidence based support model is psychological first aid, which focuses on establishing safety, using a calm presence, increasing self-efficacy, focusing on collective efficacy, establishing connection, and fostering hope. Individuals interested can train online and add this skill to their tool kit. Of course there are other models too (Check out this youth focused one at https://bethere.org/Home through Born This Way Foundation and additional supports through the National Council for Behavioral Health (https://bit.ly/3opUl5J).
THE BOTTOM LINE: It is OK to be angry. Engage in real life interactions to dispel some of that anger. And focus on what you can do to support yourself and others who are making difficult decisions.
Now let’s work on that anger, get back out there, and continue to fight against this pandemic together!
Stay safe. Stay Sane. And Stay Hopeful!
Those Nerdy Girls