Staying Safe and Managing Social Pressures During the Pandemic

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Emily Kumlien
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UW Health COVID-19 Resources 

Madison, Wisconsin - COVID-19 has upended every aspect of our lives, including our social lives. With no immediate end in sight, many people have experienced increased pressure (or desire) to engage in traditional summer social activities like parties, BBQ’s or beach gatherings.


Everyone is dealing with a different set of pressures and circumstances as they try to stay physically and mentally healthy; and while we want life to return to normal, certain social gatherings increase the risk of spreading and contracting COVID-19.


To maintain healthy choices and connections with peers, UW Health distinguished psychologist Shilagh A. Mirgain offer the following tips.

  • Set your own boundaries: Know what you feel comfortable doing based on your community’s COVID-19 rates, local government regulations, your risks, and your circumstances. Write down your guidelines if that helps.
  • Be comfortable saying no. If asked to do something that makes you feel unsafe, you can say thank you for the invitation, decline politely, and offer a safe alternative to connect.
  • Be a good example: Research shows that individuals are more likely to adopt a new healthy lifestyle practice when others in their social network adopt one too. Be a role model of COVID-19 safety measures.
  • Defuse any conflict: There can be significant stress when friends or family put pressure on you to attend gatherings, socialize indoors or not practice social distancing or mask wearing. You might be teased when trying to maintain the guidelines or rebuffed when declining social invitations. Have a script ready, such as: “Thank you for the invitation.  I want to keep myself and my family safe by following the CDC’s guidelines and am not comfortable getting together doing activities like this right now. I am really looking forward to spending time with you soon.” You decide what you are comfortable with. Your boundaries are not up for debate.
  • Come back to center. This is a stressful time. If you feel overwhelmed or pressured, anchor yourself in the present moment and take several deep breaths.
  • Respect differences. Do not shame others’ actions and choices as we all do our best to get through this difficult time. Focus on the things you can control.

VIDEO: Tips for Maintaining Healthy Choices



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Date Published: 08/07/2020

News tag(s):  daily updatecoronavirusshilagh a mirgain

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