The High Street, Oxford. Credits: Evgeny Klimenchenko
The High Street, Oxford. Credits: Evgeny Klimenchenko

Managing different attitudes to living with COVID-19

You may be finding it frustrating that those around you have different ideas about living with COVID-19 than you do. This blog explores how you can navigate these differences, whichever view you take.

While some are committed to continuing with health measures, others favour the removal of restrictions to return to a more pre-pandemic way of life. There are many reasons for these differences including a function of different nationalities, backgrounds, health vulnerabilities or personalities.

Whatever the reasons, you may find it frustrating to discover that those around you have different ideas about what living with COVID-19 means. If you take a relaxed view, you may feel frustrated to discover that not everyone around you is as comfortable with that as you are. On the other hand, if you are concerned about infection risk, you may find it very unsettling and upsetting to observe others behaving in ways you do not believe to be safe.

Keep up the conversation 

It is important that, as we navigate these differences, we communicate explicitly with each other. It would be all too easy for differences to lead to formation of polarised groups: groups in which members take a relaxed stance about COVID, and groups—or isolated individuals—who feel unsafe or alienated from communities which they may perceive, rightly or wrongly, to be dominated by those not continuing to take sufficient precautions.

The Counselling Service would like to offer messages to those at both ends of the spectrum of attitudes.

To those who feel (relatively) unconcerned around living with COVID-19:

  • Be mindful of the possible impact of your behaviour on others within your communities. They might find it uncomfortable to confront you if you behave in ways they are not comfortable with.
  • Channel your energy and creativity into creating inclusive opportunities to socialise and have other meaningful experiences.

To those who remain concerned about the pandemic:

  • Remember that individuals’ behaviour is partly a function of their culture. The fact that they behave as they do does not mean they are bad people.
  • Try not to allow yourself to experience disproportionate fear, as this could all too easily become an obstacle.
  • Avoid any temptation to disengage from your peers academically or socially.
  • If something is making you feel uncomfortable, have the confidence to speak up for what you need. 

To create strong, well-functioning communities it is important for us to be thoughtful and sensitive to all of the differences between us, including differences in attitudes about living with COVID-19. This attention to each other’s needs and feelings can make a world of difference to all of our experience.

You can explore the full range of blogs and podcasts created to support you throughout the pandemic on the Counselling Service's website.