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Your people won’t take COVID seriously. Here’s how to handle that without screaming.

Remember when we all thought this was going to last a few weeks and then we’d all get back to normal? I know I was one of those people who couldn’t imagine still living in (partial, at least) lockdown mode in the middle of July. LOL. Here we are!

Not much has changed since this whole thing started, but one thing definitely has.

The commitment to taking precautions seems to be, let’s say, variable depending on who you talk to. There are some people who are still wiping down their groceries and haven’t seen anyone besides those they live with. On the other end of the spectrum, you have the mask-less, carefree individuals hopping on airplanes for their summer vacations.

If you’re reading that last sentence and feeling the anxiety creep up, I’m with you.

It’s even harder if some of your favorite people are in that last category or somewhere close to it. You desperately want to protect them, but at the same time, you don’t want to constantly argue about face coverings any time you speak.

So now what? Here are some tips to chat with those who need to be taking this more seriously that can also hopefully avoid you losing your mind.

When your conversations start to look like this, it’s time to try another way.

Shaming doesn’t work.

Let’s get this out of the way first. Shaming is never effective for long term, meaningful change. At best, shaming someone might make someone change what they’re doing in the moment but not long after. They’ll probably just stop telling you about it. This is true of everything COVID related and everything else that isn’t.

Tell them how you feel, not what you think.

This is a big one and can be applied to any time you want someone to really hear you and change their behavior. People tend to be pretty stubborn by nature, especially when we feel like we’re being told that we’re doing something wrong. No one likes that feeling, and as a result, we usually dig in our heels. Rather than share all the facts and what you think (as educated as your opinion may be!), tell them how their actions are making you feel. “You’re making a mistake” or “I can’t believe you’re ignoring science!” goes down very differently than “I’m really scared for your health” or “I’m so worried about you. I don’t want anything to harm you”.

Changing up your language might not be a magic wand, but it can open the gates for a more honest, vulnerable, and therefore productive, conversation than trying to fact shame someone.

Who would have ever thought this would be such a polarizing item?!

Help them troubleshoot.

Some people might be sticking to their old, riskier, routine because they aren’t sure how to do anything differently. Have a friend who won’t give up their gym? Offer to help them find at home workouts or equipment. A family member who won’t cancel their travel plans? Ask if they’d like help navigating the mess of travel credits. Are they uneducated about the risks? E-mail the information from a reputable source – without commentary. When people know better they do better, and sometimes they need some help. That’s okay! It can also be one of the best ways to get them on your side.

Opt out when you have to.

Hearing political rhetoric and/or the denial of facts over and over again is exhausting. Sometimes these conversations aren’t frustrating because of another person’s well being, but because of yours. It’s okay to shut down conversations that you don’t feel are productive or are draining for you. Setting up boundaries of topics that are off limits, including anything COVID related, are absolutely okay.

We should be able to be magically transported here after all arguments about COVID.


One of the harshest realities of life (well, at least for me and my Virgo self) is that you can’t control what other people do – even when you know you know better. That whole idea of “knowing better” is beyond subjective in most situations, but this is science. If you’re trying to get your family to wear a mask, and they’re refusing, you do know better. And yet, that means nothing if they don’t agree with you. If you’ve tried your best, and there’s still no change, it might be time to practice acceptance. I’m with you, it’s HARD. Instead of using your energy to change someone else, shift it to taking care of yourself. What do you need if the situation isn’t changing? This is a good question to ask yourself overall given that this pandemic is a long term situation.

If you’re struggling overall, just remember, this won’t last forever, even if “not forever” is pretty far away. Sometimes that’s all we have, and that’s okay too.

Author: Rachel

Rachel is a licensed therapist and co-founder of Viva Wellness. She gets most of her inspiration for the blog while on the run, and if you ever need to find her, she’s probably in Central Park. If she’s not running, you’ll find her planning the next time she’s going to eat, exploring all things wellness in NYC, or raising her stress level by watching her sports teams.

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  1. This is great advice.

    I don’t mention this topic to them anymore since we’ve been over it multiple times, but I’ve also stopping spending time with the people in my life who aren’t taking Covid-19 seriously. They have the right to risk their own health. I have the right to protect mine!

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