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COVID-19 Opening Up: Respecting Different Approaches and Opinions

Dr. Joti Samra

May 29, 2020

Relationships

As workplaces and services open back up in British Columbia, we’re seeing differing opinions on what we ‘should’ be doing and how we ‘should’ be approaching this. But there have been differing opinions as well as differing levels of commitment to isolation and social distancing this entire time. 

Many of us may think we are approaching it the ‘right way’. But how are we supposed to agree when even the government officials across Canada can’t agree on the best approach? So, let’s talk about COVID-19, opening up, how these opinions can have an impact on our relationships and how to approach these conversations with those we care about. 

Different Opinions on Opening Up

Having been isolated for more than two months, many of us are feeling disconnected and anxious to reconnect with our loved ones and our usual activities. This, however, doesn’t mean everyone is going to jump at the opportunity to get out and get back to ‘regular’ life. 

Differing opinions on how to approach physical distancing and resumption of usual activities may put a strain on some relationships, or impact our opinions of those who make different choices than we do. 

Remember we are all dealing with a significant amount of stress as a result of this pandemic and are all coping with it differently. The important thing to think about here is communication. Communicate effectively and respectfully about what you’re comfortable with respect to physical distancing, and ensure you’re being assertive about your needs – as well as being respectful about other people’s opinions and choices. 

My Isolation Choices

Personally, I’ve been extremely conservative in regards to isolation. I have generally stayed home and only leave my house when I’m required to do so to get essentials. Virtually all of my social interaction has been through virtual platforms, and I have even been cautious about deliveries made to my home.

I’m not going to be one of the first ones to rush out to go to my favourite restaurants when they open up (even though I’m definitely missing some of my favourite vegan local eats, such as Meet in Yaletown!) or to gather with friends (even though I miss my closest of friends dearly). This does not mean I am going to judge those who do; if I turn down any invites from friends, it is my hope that they won’t take it personally. 

Stay Safe: How to Approach Opening Up

Right now, it’s important for us to be taking care of our physical and psychological health in a way that works for us and judging one another is not beneficial for anyone.

That being said, it’s important to be listening to guidelines and taking reasonable precautions. As we are opening up, we should remain cautious, keep social gatherings to a minimum number of people, and be conscious of closeness (i.e., skipping handshakes or hugs with anyone outside of our immediate ‘bubble’ for now). When meeting up, gathering outdoors in less populated areas seems to be the best approach. Also, continue to engage in recommended hygiene protocols; resist touching surfaces while you’re out, resist touching your face and carry hand sanitizer if you can get your hands on some. When you get home, wash your hands thoroughly for a minimum of twenty seconds as well as regularly disinfect high touch surfaces like light switches, doorknobs, taps – and don’t forget about your smartphone! 

We’re experiencing collective anxiety that may make communicating with others more challenging. Because of this, it’s important to acknowledge the struggles we are all going through and even though we’re all struggling, our experiences are vastly different. So, as our communities and provinces start to open up, make conscious decisions about your personal health and safety and communicate those needs and boundaries with others around you. While also doing what you can to remain non-judgemental and respectful about others’ decisions even if they’re in direct opposition to yours. 

In the words of the infamous Dr. Bonnie Henry: remember to be kind, be calm, and stay safe. Wishing everyone health and safety during this most unusual time.

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