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Navigating COVID-19: managing social pressures during the pandemic

Published: Aug. 7, 2020 at 5:40 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - With no clear end in sight to COVID-19 restrictions and a recent uptick in cases tied to gatherings, deciding on whether to join in on summer fun with larger groups can be tough to say no to.

Health experts explain many have an increased desire to engage in more traditional summer activities, but certain gatherings can increase the risk of spreading and contracting the virus.

UW Health psychologist Dr. Shilagh Mirgain shared tips on how to stay physically and mentally healthy, while dealing with different kinds of social pressures.

“One of the contributing factors that we are finding is peer pressure. We tend to adopt new health behaviors when those in our social group are adopting them too,” she said.

To help maintain healthy choices and connections with peers, she recommends: set your own boundaries for what you feel comfortable doing, be comfortable saying no when it comes to doing something that makes you feel unsafe, be a good example, and respect differences of other people.

“Depending on where you are at in your particular community with COVID-19 rates, there are going to be some differences, but it is important to know what you want to be doing with your personal guidelines and communicating that with others,” she said.

Mirgain said with many people wanting things to return to normal, there can be a lot of anxiety and uncertainty especially during the warmer months. She recommended returning to simpler joys, such as planning things outdoors.

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