By Lisa Matsuda

Stress Management Part 2: Avoid Stigmatizing Others! 1

My beautiful neices Lisa (left) and Natalia.

My beautiful and talented niece, Lisa Matsuda, is a frequent contributing writer at I think you’ll enjoy this very thought provoking article she wrote. It’s something I’m very proud to post today. Thank you Lisa!

Stress Management Part 3: Avoid Stigmatizing Others!

Finishing our second month of quarantine, one thing is for certain: people’s behavior towards others has changed, and not for the better in many cases. Covid 19 has become the leprosy of the 21st century with people now avoiding others by crossing the street when they see them. Even saying hello is becoming tabu as some view communication as breaking quarantine and avoid it to the amusement of some and the annoyance of others. Have you noticed that when you are out for your walk even just LOOKING at someone causes them to look away? How did that make you feel? I’m sure it didn’t help your stress level go down, in any case!

Stigma around disease is not new. From HIV to head lice, people naturally want to avoid infection. The sight of boils, cuts, coughing, and other signs that the body is fighting an infection, make most of us want to run! It is completely natural and not necessarily a bad thing. Fear is the number one influencer of human behavior, but you do not need to have it control your actions.

They’re Sick Because They Deserve It…?

As a society we have been working hard to erase the stigma around disease and mental illness but it seems none of that matters when it comes to Covid-19. Valerie Earnshaw from the National Institute of Mental Health co wrote a fantastic article about stigma and illness. She mentions the “just world fallacy” where many of us believe that if we do everything right, such as wash our hands for 60 seconds rather than 20 seconds, then we will not get infected. This of course is not necessarily correct. We subconsciously assume anyone who catches something somehow deserves it. Maybe they didn’t wash their hands long enough, or maybe they didn’t social distance properly. Maybe you saw their kids playing outside! SHAME! It somehow never crosses the minds of some that they may contract it too. This also causes people to avoid testing for it because we know people’s reactions to someone with the virus are sometimes worse than the actual virus itself. We are quick to judge and slow to sympathize.

The good news is that there are still many people out there who are working hard to dispel the stereotypes. Many celebrities have come out saying they have Covid-19 or have had it, and while some of their efforts to comfort the public seem a bit clumsy and cringeworthy, at least they are trying! If they can get it, then we all can!

Be a Good Neighbor!

So how does this relate to stress relief? When you do your positive affirmations and declarations, include others in your routine. Remind yourself that you will smile at the mom walking her kids around the neighborhood. Smile at the elderly couple who are taking a turn around the neighborhood. Say “Hello” to that grumpy lady that you see all the time. Who knows? Maybe you’ll cheer her up! And if not, what’s wrong with being civil in a time of increasing incivility? Not only will this lessen their stress, doing good to others will lessen yours!

Stress Management Part 2: Avoid Stigmatizing Others! 2

Family walk, Mom, Dad and puppies! Precious!

If you have had Covid-19, or have it currently, do not worry! You are not alone. You are not dirty, disgusting, or shameful. You will recover and continue your life. You can be a support for those who are feeling shunned by society because of this virus. You can be the positive influence others need to recover. Join a support group for people recovering from Covid, or start your own! You may be surprised at who joins your group and they will always remember your kindness during their time of stress,

Don’t forget: the quarantine was put in place to HELP others and flatten the curve. It was not to label others as dirty and “unclean”, and it does not replace mercy and compassion. Ask yourself this: during quarantine, when there is a lot of fear and uncertainty, where many are isolated and lonely, what is YOUR best response to others?

Let’s do out best to be kind to one another!” Amen!

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