Are you tired of missing family and friends, not having a routine, or not being able to go to places or do things you once did? Do you find that you have increased stress and feelings of loneliness due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19)? Has your life or the life of a family member or close friend been affected by infection or exposure? Perhaps you are trying to follow the safety guidelines and are irritated by people that do not. Our mental, emotional, and physical state directly influences our beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors regarding safety precautions and vaccination. With infection and hospitalization rates on the rise this winter, it’s important to take active steps as individuals so that collectively we can drive down the virus spread. For more on reasons why it is hard to follow the recommendations from the Center of Disease Control (CDC), read on.
One of the main reasons for not practicing protective behaviors is an issue of risk perception. Wanting to be with people, convenience, a desire for normalcy, and misinformation can create strong feelings and urges in all of us. Thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and urges such as these can result in a decreased awareness of the real dangers of behaviors that can lead to COVID-19 exposure, infection, and spread. Just because you "feel" a situation is not risky does not mean that this is so. Are pressures to conform influencing your decision making? In many cases, exposures, infections, and spread due to misperceptions of risk can be avoided. What are ways you can manage these thoughts, feelings, and urges so that you don't put yourself or others at risk?
Three other behaviors that limit the spread of the coronavirus include:
1) Practice the recommended preventive health behaviors. Preventive health behaviors such as correctly wearing effective face masks to protect yourself and others, staying at least two arm lengths away (6 feet) from others who don’t live with you, and handwashing and sanitizing common living areas are a change from the norm and take extra consideration/work. It may be challenging to make your young child wear a mask when in public, a recommendation for all children 2 years and older. It can also be unnatural to physically distance from those whom you do not live with. Consider beforehand how you would communicate with others regarding your safety needs should a risky or uncomfortable situation arise- and practice in advance.
Sometimes it can be hard to follow through on these preventive health behaviors because we are busy, tired, or forget. As time passes, COVID-19 fatigue increases. In a recent article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Brossard suggests the following strategies to help with starting and keeping these habits to prevent virus exposure, contamination, and spread:
2) Know the symptoms of coronavirus, get tested immediately if symptomatic, and isolate from others when sick. The CDC website has 11 symptoms associated with the coronavirus. How many can you correctly guess? Seriously; take a moment and try to list them. I will admit that coming up with symptoms off the top of my head wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. You can familiarize yourself with the symptoms or take this COVID-19 Self Checker to help protect yourself and loved ones from infection and spread. You don't need to have all of these symptoms, as everyone is affected differently. If you are exposed and test positive but have mild or absent symptoms, still protect others from catching it and possibly developing a severe case.
COVID-19 testing is recommended for people who have symptoms, people who have had close contact with someone with confirmed COVID-19, and people who have participated in activities with a high risk for transmission.
People may refuse to get tested because they don't like being told what to do. People may also refuse to get tested due to fears of isolation and quarantine. There may also be concerns about the effects of isolation/quarantine upon work and family responsibilities. Lastly, some may be avoiding the stigma that comes with having testing positive. Most of these reasons are tied to fears and avoidance. In the event that you do not have the coronavirus, testing can bring greater peace of mind and freedom. If you test positive for COVID-19, a proactive response to get diagnosed and treated is the best option for you and others. Early detection will also allow you and your family to discuss logistics and prepare in the event that your condition worsens.
If you are healthy but someone close to you becomes infected, it's natural for emotions to run high and stress levels to increase. When this happens, it can be challenging to make good decisions- especially if your sleep and self-care are impacted. This handy CDC article provides a step by step guideline based on current information on how to best respond in the event that you or someone in your household has the coronavirus. Again, remember to not put yourself or others at risk of infection because of an emotional response.
3) When it is offered, GET VACCINATED. Some are reluctant and decline vaccination, leading to continued infection and spread of the Coronavirus. Reasons for vaccine refusal and hesitancy include:
I hope that this article was helpful! To date, almost 2000 people living in Orange County, CA have passed away due to the coronavirus. Coming off of the winter break, new cases continue to increase. Don't allow emotions, social pressures, or complacency to turn into regret. The coronavirus is real, the statistics are real, and THE NEED FOR AN EVERY PERSON RESPONSE IS REAL. Let's get through this together.
<3 Be well.. !
Dr. Melissa Soo Hoo provides telehealth counseling services tailored to meet your specific needs. If you are interested in a free 15 minute phone consultation for counseling you can call or email.
This post is dedicated to those who are fighting for their lives and for those who have lost a loved one due to the coronavirus. Peace, strength, hope, and comfort be with you.
All blog posts from Dr. Soo Hoo are provided for educational and informational purposes only. As Dr. Soo Hoo is a licensed clinical and health psychologist, we must make it clear that nothing on the blog is intended to constitute medical or psychological advice, consultation, recommendation, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are concerned about your health, please seek appropriate care in your area.