How to Avoid Being a ‘Coronavirus Jerk’ Amid the Pandemic

Managing day-to-day living amid a pandemic can be stressful to say the least.

And as we enter the fourth month of the COVID-19 outbreak and cases of the novel virus continue to rise in certain hotspots, many are finding themselves feeling more and more overwhelmed and extra irritable.

“The stress of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the world in a magnitude that we have not seen until now,” Sanam Hafeez, a clinical psychologist, told “Today.” “While we do see courage and kindness, we also see people who act out in an aggressive, offensive or inappropriate manner, both in-person and online.”

Andrea Bonior, a licensed clinical psychologist and author, added that the stress can affect your peripheral nervous system and lead individuals to act out and cause conflict with friends, family and strangers.

To avoid becoming a “coronavirus jerk,” Hafeez and Bonior outlined tips to stay zen and keep yourself in check.

While food shopping

When in a grocery store it’s important to social distance, wear a mask and to be especially mindful of the grocery store’s safety protocols. “Respect for personal space is being self-aware,” said Hafeez. “Practice patience and never berate or humiliate anyone.” This also applies in non-pandemic times.

While walking or exercising outdoors

Getting fresh air can do wonders for your mental health, but the safety of other individuals must always be taken into account. “Social distance is of paramount importance — even outside in the fresh air,” added Hafeez. “If you’re jogging towards a walker, keep a healthy distance as you jog past."

While in common spaces/apartment buildings

In addition to avoiding having guests over, Hafeez urged everyone to look after the health of their neighbors by disposing of gloves in proper receptacles and always covering your face and mouth in common spaces.

On social media

In these divisive times, debate can quickly turn to personal attacks online. Bonior advised to make sure you are aware of your tone when responding to friends and/or strangers on social media. “If you feel the need to correct someone, do it in an empathetic way with as much respect and as little condescension as you can muster,” Bonior said, before adding, “sometimes, that means doing it privately.”

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