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Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

All of us are making daily decisions about our contact with others and exposure to the outside world. Whether you are deciding whether or not to go to the grocery store or to relocate to Florida, the following questions can be helpful:

1. Is the risk necessary?

  • What are the negative consequences of staying put?
  • What are the positive outcomes of leaving?

2. What are your parameters for personal safety?

  • What are you considering? Does it feel safe? What do you, personally, need to feel safe? Mask? Gloves? Only going out before 10 am? Figure your own personal comfort level with risk of contagion?
  • Find one or two reliable sources for health recommendations that you trust: the CDC and WHO post national and international recommendations and update regularly, but deciding who you trust is a deeply personal decision. Avoid the social media rabbit hole.
  • Reassess on a regular basis based on your own comfort level and changing recommendations.

3. What are your moral parameters?

  • Are you putting others at risk? The elderly? Immunocompromised individuals?
  • What feels like responsible behavior for your community (family, friends, city, state, country, etc.)?
  • Is the moral contribution for your community (family, friends, city, state, country, etc.) of you leaving more significant than you staying put? Use your same trustworthy sources to confirm what feels reasonable and ethical to you based on your exposure to vulnerable populations.

4. How do you manage feelings of social reprobation and judgment?

  • Whatever you decide, you may experience anxiety about how others are viewing your behavior.
  • What do you need to do to engage in effective reality testing? For example, "everyone ISN'T looking at me, but it sure feels like it!"
  • What do you need to endure external criticism from friends, family, and strangers (i.e. "OMG I can't believe you're freaking out, it's not that big of a deal!" or "OMG you are going to get COVID!") without becoming dysregulated. Make the decision to trust yourself.
  • Remember that we are experiencing this crisis both individually and collectively. Now more than ever, try not to make things personal.

Attend to your mental health: anxiety and depression both interfere with out ability to make good decisions.

  • Practice self-compassion: these are frightening times for everyone. Be patient with yourself as you navigate daily changes. 

  • Prioritize meaningful connection with others: are you talking to at least one human being every day? 

  • Prioritize meaningful alone time: how are you carving out space for yourself?

  • What do you need to feel happy and healthy? If regular time outside is part of that, how can you get that in ways that still feel safe to you? Be creative about getting your needs met. 


CDC Links: