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Avoiding judgment, hostility over different responses to pandemic

Posted at 8:16 PM, May 12, 2020

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - There's a lot of anger and judgment from some about the different ways people are responding to the pandemic.

How much should we be social distancing? When and where should we be wearing masks?

The differing opinions can built up a lot of hostility.

Dr. Colleen Cira, a licensed clinical psychologist, says part of the reason we do this is because our brains like simplicity and we want to see things as black and white.

When things are more nuanced and complicated, our brain struggles and we can lose empathy.

It can also make us anxious, which causes the sympathetic side of our nervous system to kick on.

That can be hard on your body over time.

"If we’re living on the sympathetic side, that is meant for survival. It is based out of fear. That means that we’re going to be exhausted, irritable, and living on that side really creates a weakened immune response, which is ironically the thing that we’re probably anxious about and judging other people for is getting sick. When we live on the parasympathetic side, that is what allows our body to heal and that increases our immune response," said Dr. Cira.

So, how do you get back on the parasympathetic side?

Dr. Cira says anytime you’re feeling angry or frustrated with someone else’s choices, pause for a minute to breathe and do some self reflection.

Ask yourself what you’re stressed about and what’s making you anxious.

Instead of lecturing someone else, do something to take care of yourself since that’s all you really have control over anyway.

Doing that can help get your body back on the right track and keep you healthy.

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