Compassion Not Covid
Dealing with this pandemic has been quite stressful for many people. Fear and anxiety about a new disease and what could happen has been overwhelming and may have caused strong emotions in adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, have also made people feel isolated and lonely, increasing any stress and anxiety that one may be feeling already.
When facing disasters, generally people are moved by compassion. They usually come together and help each other. But not always. Pandemics are notable exceptions, historically. With earthquakes, wildfires and hurricanes, people unify. Throughout history, pandemics have been known to produce a detached, “survival of the fittest” mentality.
Why do pandemics result in less compassion than other types of disasters?
One reason is fear. If we’re afraid of each other, it can drive us apart. In contrast to a hurricane, where people unite against a visible, external enemy, in a pandemic the enemy is invisible and can be inside those around us. Additionally, the wisdom of “social distancing” and remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining distance (e.g. 6 feet) from others, to limit the spread of the virus drives us apart, not together.
While it is crucial (and compassionate) to maintain a safe physical distance, we must not lose our sense of community and interconnectedness. We believe it is possible to maintain a safe physical distance and still stay connected, showing compassion and comforting others. They are not mutually exclusive.
We need to support each other, now more than ever. Please let the people around you know that you care about them. Please make special effort with the elderly and infirm by dropping off a meal with an encouraging card to raise their spirits and their hope they can make it through.
Researchers define compassion as the emotional response to another’s pain or suffering involving an authentic desire to help. Your “response” and “help” are compassionate actions. We urge you to think about adherence to social distancing and wearing your face mask as compassion for others.
Compassion for others can boost your own mental health and well-being, reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression that you may be feeling yourself right now. Compassion for others activates your nervous system in a way that has a calming effect and can help you forget your own worries, at least temporarily.
Compassion and cooperation are, in fact, highly contagious and spread rapidly in social networks.
So, show some compassion, and let’s make this pandemic different than those in the past.
We are in this together, and we will get through this – together!