The global pandemic has caused many people to self isolate on their leaders’ orders. While isolation inherently may not be deemed a ‘fun’ activity, our framing of quarantine is instrumental to our well being and feeling of autonomy.
The Framing Effect explains how, with identical options, such as the “glass half empty and glass half full,” people will resoundingly choose the option that is phrased in a positive way. Interestingly, positive and negative language also affects making risky or cautious choices. If something is framed in a positive way, people are more cautious about preserving what is good. If it is framed negatively, people are prone to take chances for better outcomes.
The way we can frame quarantine can impact our choices. By framing our action of staying home as saving lives, we are more cautious about unnecessarily going out.
Translating our choices to the positive impact we can have on ourselves and others is important. Wearing a mask may save 200 lives. Maintaining the maximum distance from others in the grocery store may save 200 lives. Asking your friend to have a fancy zoom dinner instead of going out to eat may save 200 lives. Asking coworkers to respect distancing and hand sanitizer protocols may save 200 lives. As social beings, taking care of our mental health is vital. Yet there are safe (and creative) ways to spend time together! You can enjoy Covidopoly game nights, online watch parties, social distance walks, virtual cooking competitions, and telephone stargazing. There is a book of 3,000 questions (and a plethora of online lists) to go through with friends and family to get a good conversation started.
It is easy to struggle with holding your tongue over the pile of disappointment and frustration, the stress of responsibility we feel right now between work, self-care, health, safety, and economic livelihood. The framing effect reminds us that we can control how we present our situation to others and ourselves. The options are the same - we are in quarantine - but we decide how to articulate its importance, celebration of progress, and finding indicators of growth.