While I slip up occasionally, my way of coping with the fraught and unusual circumstances we are in is to remind myself that I can control only myself and my actions. That I am neither responsible for the actions of anyone else, nor can I judge them for what they are doing or not doing in response to Covid-19.
I explained some time ago about how the “Stay at home” repetitions on social media were causing me to fret. I had to add “as much as you can” in my head in order to keep calm. [essential workers, the homeless, etc.]
Now it is the “everyone has to wear masks all the time” refrain that has me spinning. To unspin myself, I have to say this in my mind: “everyone, who is capable of wearing masks when physical distancing is not possible, will wear them.”
This covers the issue for me. I am taking it on faith that those who are not wearing masks have their reasons and that I have to be empathetic and understanding. A reminder that Canada’s head public health officer, Dr. Teresa Tam, told us not to scorn or shame those who aren’t wearing masks. At the last census there were almost 3 million Canadians with asthma, that’s almost 9% of the population. That’s one example of people who cannot necessarily wear masks. Some asthmatics can and some can't; and some can wear them for only a short time. [thanks CM for the info]. I’d like to see masks becoming affordable and available in stores.
If seeing someone without a mask in public is making you panic, if that panic is causing you to lash out on social media, to report people for not wearing masks, take a breath. Try to remember that you can’t control others and that you are wearing a mask and doing your best. That’s all you can do. Lead by example.
I know there are so many examples of people who just seem to be uncaring; they’re partying in groups, they are not following any guidelines to protect themselves or others.
This is frustrating and scary, but this is the way of the world. Humans are not always considerate of others. No amount of lecturing or scolding is going to get humans to do the sensible thing, or the caring thing. What it does is waste a lot of energy and cause the scolder a lot of heartache.
How then do we convince people to wear masks and be careful? I’m not sure, other than to lead by example and to pay attention to public health authorities, don’t spread hyperbolic reports from dubious sources. If enough people see others wearing masks, perhaps they will do it. I know in my own experience that being scolded and shamed rarely causes me to adopt a new behaviour I was stubborn about. I have to see it in practice.