It’s easy to get upset with people who are not taking COVID-19 seriously. We chat with Dr. Christine Korol about anger and convincing your parents or friends to be more careful.
Christine Korol quick chat anger toward people who are not taking COVID seriously
You’ve spoken about people who get angry when they see others not taking COVID seriously. Some of those angry people have been health care workers, but what are you seeing from the general public?
What I’ve been telling people is that everybody copes with stress differently. And I think there haven’t been a lot of clear messages up to this point. Things are getting clearer now, but you see different restrictions in different communities, and in different provinces and different countries.
There’s a lot of information coming at us, and the communication on an individual level of what you should be doing in your community is actually kind of hard to find. I try to keep up to date with it myself and I find it rather difficult at times so hopefully that becomes clearer.
Public health has to be the one to police people. You can’t be the COVID police. You also don’t know how people are coping with this, and some people cope by not turning on the news. And that’s something that we tell people to do all the time. If you’re feeling anxious stop watching the news 24/7. But in this case you do have to watch some news because it is changing so quickly every day, so you know what you’re allowed to do and not do.
So when you get angry with friends or family members or you see someone you don’t know on the street or gathering in groups, it’s important to know we’re autonomous people. We have to make our own decisions. We’re all processing this difficult decision differently. And some people are dealing with their anxiety by going outside and not reading the news. So you have to be patient with people, and understand that this is a difficult situation, it’s unprecedented, but it really takes a larger voice than your own to change somebody’s mind about what’s safe and what’s not safe.
Plus you know I run an anxiety centre so a lot of my patients tend to be kind of nervous, and their families kind of tune them out. So I bring that up with my anxious patients, that it’s almost like people look at us like we’re Chicken Little when we’re anxious. That we say “don’t do this” and “don’t do that” and now it’s “here we go again with COVID-19” and they’re not taking it seriously. And you might not be the person to change their minds.
So anger with these people is unproductive. But I’m wondering how I can convince my 70-year-old mom, who lives in Winnipeg, that she’s not going to be able to keep her church basement bookstore open.
Yeah, you won’t be able to do it, probably. I’ve never been able to change any of my relatives’ minds. About anything.
Okay, then I will accept that she will keep it open, and hope no one goes to visit while she does (since the time of this interview, the bookstore has indeed closed).
Yep, you kind of have to rely on the city or the province to enact those guidelines. Each day here in Vancouver it seems like another category of businesses is being closed down. Psychologists were Monday. I closed my practice down last week so I’m in tele-health now in my second week. But it was just a few days ago that we got our directive to move to tele-health, from the public health officer who relayed the message through the colleges here in BC.
So it’s going to have to be legislated. Even if it’s a smart thing to do to shut it down, you can’t force anybody to shut it down including family members. Patience is the antidote to anger! You can maybe ask them why they don’t want to close down. Why it’s important to them. Be curious! What are they afraid will happen if they do close down? Maybe you can find out a little more about why they’re doing this instead of just assuming they’re being stupid and ridiculous and being a danger to everybody else.
Be a little curious about what they’re doing because at this point you do want to keep your relationship strong through this. Be supportive and be someone that they can come and talk to when they eventually do have to make that decision. So when they say “I had to close the bookstore” you’re not going to say “see I told you so”.