Choose Wisely

I understand why people are protesting to open restrictions. This Coronavirus pandemic lockdown is wearing on me also. I miss visiting with friends over a good meal served at a restaurant, I’m long overdue for a haircut, and desperately wanting to hug the children in my family. My vacation was cancelled, masks hurt my ears and I want to get back to my normal work routine. My heart goes out to people who have lost employment and closed businesses. Of course I want to reopen America. But my feelings are not reasons to act irresponsibly.

At the time of this writing, several states have already started to reopen business. Georgia, Oklahoma and Alaska loosened lockdown orders. Georgia and Oklahoma allowed salons, spas and barbershops to open their doors. Alaska allowed restaurants to resume dine-in service and retail shops to open. How quickly and to what degree should other states reopen? These are critical decisions that should be based on research and tracking, not on emotions. Irresponsible actions are potentially deadly to others.

White House Guidelines (whitehouse.gov) propose a three-phase approach based on the advice of public health experts. Decisions to reopen services should be based on science with up-to-date data, aim to mitigate risk of resurgence, protect the most vulnerable, and should be implemented on a county-by-county basis. Specifically, there should be a downward trajectory of Covid19 illnesses within a 14-day period, a flattening of the curve, and massive testing for at-risk workers and vulnerable people.

Guidelines are necessary and helpful, but only to the degree that individuals choose to observe them. Human brains have an emotional and a logical side. Each time we make a choice, emotions and logic struggle for dominance. The problem is that individuals don’t always make decisions based on logic. It is said that emotions dictate 80% of the choices Americans make, while practicality and objectivity only represent about 20% of decision making. Emotional reasoning is based on self-interest. Data driven decisions are entirely logical. Feeling safe is not the same thing as being safe.

So, how do we manage our emotions while abiding by restrictions? Most of us can’t tolerate discomfort for even short periods of time. We avoid, ignore, resist or run away from our pain. Finding ways to sit with discomfort is an essential skill. Learning to be comfortable while being uncomfortable is a learned art. People who accept discomfort in life move through it faster rather than individuals who resist it. Nowhere is this truer than in the Covid19 spread. If we resist safety protections, we will see a new wave of infection. Stay true to restrictions and the spread will slow. It is a challenge, however. Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone in your discomfort

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