COVID-19 has led to a variety of issues coming up in therapy that may not have been prominent concerns before. Navigating socialization is definitely a topic that has been coming up often. Specifically, those who are trying to socially distance have expressed feeling challenged when it comes to politely addressing invitations from others who believe or think otherwise about the need to distance or be masked.
Best recommendation is to simply be honest about your need to decline. Making up excuses only leads to people coming up with various solutions to offset your fabricated excuse. You know how this goes. We’ve all been there. “Sorry I can’t make your wedding. I don’t have anyone to watch the cat,” I shrug and say, and it’s promptly met with “Oh! No worries, my friend Alex just started a cat-sitting business. He’s got you covered!” Ugh. As it relates to our newfound quarantine life, no need to add in various pieces of detail – like “I would come, but wearing a mask is so uncomfortable,” because now the would-be host is explaining how they’ve purchased an air purifier to address this concern. Keep it simple: “Sorry to miss, but I’m currently keeping my outings and social contact to a minimum for health reasons.” No need to launch into a lecture here about flattening the curve, the duty to humanity, etc. The objective is to decline based upon your own personal choice as it relates to your health.
COVID-19 is actually requiring us all to personally take inventory of what we value in life (health, income, travel, socializing, etc.) and then create a hierarchy of how each is now prioritized, given the present circumstances. This may look dramatically different than how you would normally prioritize your values – and that is okay. We’re all within a really unique situation at this time, and our ability and willingness to be flexible helps us survive times like this. Recognizing that socializing contributes to our overall well-being, however, you might consider some more creative ways to support connectivity and feel free to offer those suggestions in lieu of an in-person RSVP: “Wish I could be there in person, but I’m abstaining currently from social gatherings for health reasons. Might someone be willing to do Skype to allow me to have dinner with you all from afar? That could be fun!”
Most importantly, take in ample education to inform your decision-making process and do what you feel is best for you and your family. Communicate that message as needed, knowing what best serves you and your family may not mimic the plans of others. And that’s okay!