We are in the middle of what I call “Reopening Anxiety.”
Amid continued uncertainties regarding the spread of COVID-19 and the value of antibody testing, we are all faced with continual choices and decision-making – that is causing stress and anxiety.
What saddens me is the division that’s been created among people with different opinions about what precautions should be taken. The biggest division is about mask-wearing and social distancing.
Each side feels so strongly that they are right…so dealing with people who think otherwise can be anxiety provoking – especially when those people are your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors.
How We Got Here
Sometimes we forget that this coronavirus pandemic is universal and we have all been affected. Since March, COVID has triggered our two most primal fears:
So, the fight or flight response was triggered in most of our brains. On top of that we’ve collectively experienced:
- Loss of freedom
- Loss of lifestyle and “normalcy”
- Shock and disbelief
- Stress and anxiety
- Going stir crazy
- Anger and upset
- Unease and discomfort of quarantine and all the changes that came with it
And after 2 months of all of that, pretty much everybody was “over it!”
The Anxiety of Dealing with “The Other Side”
One of the things that is most troubling people right now about the COVID situation is dealing with the different ways that people and businesses are handling the re-opening of our community.
Here’s my theory on why we are dealing with such a divided approach:
We all want to be done and over with COVID. But we’re not.
So that leaves us with crazy and never-before-experienced decision-making about whether to go out or not, about who to visit, who to touch, who to hug, decisions about where to go and what surfaces are dangerous, worrying about who is wearing masks, who is coughing or who is within 6′ of me…
How exhausting and stressful that is!
SOME PEOPLE… In response to all that stress, decide that it is less stressful to go back to what we know. It’s a craving for the old normal. That is so understandable.
OTHER PEOPLE… In response to all that stress, decide that it is less stressful to just continue quarantine and lots of precautions. It avoids having to make so many decisions that bring up fear and uncertainty. That is so understandable.
5 Strategies to Try
- First, we can strive to understand one another. Because of the fact that we have all experienced the pandemic, certainly we can find some compassion for various ways people respond to the stress and the unknown.
- Agree to disagree if seeking to understand is too hard. Know that your perspective is valid and you have a right to it. Even if others disagree. If that’s true, then others have a right to their perspectives also.
- Redirect. When we disagree with friends, perhaps the easiest thing to do is agree to find something else to talk about. Take the focus to something light or something you do agree about.
- Find the gray instead of the black and white. Remember there is no single right and wrong. In some ways that would make it easier because the gray is so challenging. Look for what you have in common, even despite obvious differences. If someone makes a good point, acknowledge it – even if you don’t agree with their whole perspective.
- Try not to be right. Being right automatically makes someone else wrong. Judging that you are right and someone else is wrong only leads to more division. When you try not to be right, not to convince, not to judge, a space opens up where everyone’s opinion can be honored.