Managing Covid-Conflict

At times it seems that the world has gone mad, with conflict raging wherever you look. These days much of the conflict, on social media especially, is related to Covid-19. With so much of society now affected by the coronavirus, it is no surprise that it is on people’s minds constantly. Perhaps though we have been taken by surprise by the polarisation that it has caused, with deep divides opening up between people who may have seen themselves as like-minded in the past. Many people are exhausted by it all and want to find some respite from all the noise generated by, and related to, the pandemic. Therapist Teyhou Smyth looks at this covid-conflict raging in society and has some much-needed advice on how to manage our own part in it all. Take a break from the news and the arguments and read her thoughts here.

covid conflict blog post imageIt is likely that you have opinions about Covid-19. Maybe you don’t even think of them as opinions because, in your mind, these are the truths based on what you’ve learned about the virus so far.

At some point, if it hasn’t already happened, you’ll encounter someone who thinks completely opposite from you about Covid-19. At first you might be shocked at their views and find their logic faulty. Perhaps you will encounter their viewpoints inadvertently on social media.

You might troll the comments on their feed, surprised at how the views differ so completely from yours, and this may cause you some irritability and defensiveness. You may even find your political alliances are being triggered, as one’s views on Covid-19 has become a political statement in recent months.

Why This Conflict is So Exhausting

The conflict over Covid-19 is draining. We see the extremes playing out on our news programmes and social media platforms where people are attacking each other’s morals and values and making disparaging remarks toward one another from the safety of their screens.

Covid-conflict comes out in daily life at grocery stores, it is an ongoing consideration for workplace safety; Covid-19 is on our minds every day. Conflict is draining for most people under the best of circumstances; throw in the additional stress of a pandemic and a toxic political climate and it is most certainly going to tax your energy levels and internal resources.

Covid-conflict is different from other run-of-the-mill disagreements since there is an added fear about safety and health. Regardless what political affiliation you lean toward, your health is important to you; it is universally true. Because we are so passionate about our health and the health of our loved ones, the conflict around Covid-19, its validity, transmission and safety precautions are high-stakes.

Those who feel it is being overblown believe it with such conviction that they are willing to bet their health on it. Others, who believe the reports that the virus is devastating in so many parts of the world, are equally as convinced that it is imperative to take safety precautions.

These two camps couldn’t get any different in their core beliefs about this virus. The political landscape feeding these beliefs is rabid. We are tired because we are defensive, scared, angry, and constantly surrounded by others who feel the same way.

There is no escape from it (except Netflix, as long as you don’t click on the shows about pandemics and conspiracies). Normally we can just take a hiatus from social media when we get tired of the shenanigans, but we can’t take a break from getting groceries or working. Sure, we can take a break from the news, but for how long? As much as we need peace from the Covid-conflict, staying informed is also important.

Protecting Yourself

Unless we move into a cave in some remote area of a deserted nation without wi-fi, we’re stuck with this Covid-conflict until the pandemic is managed and treatments are discovered. Before we pack our bags to go, there are some ways we can protect ourselves from Covid-conflict in daily life.

Drop your end of the rope:
If you are feeling wiped out, it may be that you are too invested in the argument. Just like a game of tug-o-war, the conflict ends when you drop your end of the rope. It doesn’t mean you are giving up what you believe is correct and true, it means you recognise the need for peace and realise that walking away from the argument is necessary to meet that goal.

Shift your mindset:
Finding compassion for people who think differently than you can be challenging, particularly when the stakes are high, but doing so will create a shift in your mindset that will help you feel better. Remind yourself that their opinion doesn’t define them anymore than yours defines you.

You do you:
Continue to carry on in the way you feel you should, regardless of how other people behave. You’re probably not going to change anyone’s mind, even with the most sound, articulate arguments in the world. Go about your life with the idea that people are doing what they think is best, just like you are.

Try to remember that people are basically good. We don’t know why others think and feel the way they do, we only see a small amount of information about them. There is an entire life of experiences and beliefs beneath the surface of every single person we come in contact with; we only see the tip of the iceberg and shouldn’t judge each other based on that small amount of data.

TV and social media holiday:
Take a short break from sources of Covid-conflict. Make an agreement with yourself to limit your social media and tv time to a certain number of hours per week. Be selective about whom you interact with online and the media that you consume, since this will impact your stress levels.

Even though it is on everyone’s mind, we can all benefit from taking a break from obsessing about Covid-19. Make a conscious effort to think about what you love about others and yourself, and what you are looking forward to in the future. Try not to get mired in worry, even though things are uncertain right now. When Covid-conflict finally ends, we will still have this shared humanity and that is an important bond that unites us.

[This blog post originally appeared on Teyhou’s website ~ some content may have been modified for the UK context.]

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