COVID-19: Staying Home

Red house icon

Staying home and limiting your interactions to the people you live with helps stop the spread of COVID-19

By staying home, you protect yourself, your loved ones, and everyone in Wisconsin. Limiting your interactions means that there are fewer opportunities for the virus to pass from one person to another. That is why gathering with people outside your household is not safe right now.

With the high case, hospitalization, and death numbers right now, staying safe by staying home is incredibly important for our communities. But staying safe can also be tiring, and it is even more tiring when you're faced with pressure from family and friends to get together.

It's hard to say "no" to a meal with friends or a family tradition, but gatherings are not safe right now, and "no" is the safest answer to give. To help you have these though conversations with family and friends, here are some tips and conversation starters for navigating these situations.

  • Establish with common ground.
    • Lead with empathy. Making decisions to reduce your family and friends' risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 is ultimately an act of love, and that should be the focus of these conversations.
      • Try this: I care about you, and because I care about you, I don't want you to to be in danger, so I can't...
    • Convey your disappointment. Be honest about the difficulty of the decision and the pain it is causing you. Embrace emotion and express your genuine sadness and regret.
    • Acknowledge that this is difficult. Rather than minimizing the impact of your decision and the disruption caused by COVID-19 that led you to make it, make it clear that this is nobody's ideal.
      • Try this: You know, I agree, this is difficult and I wish we could... But it's just not safe.
    • Validate their feelings. Your family or friends might be saddened, frustrated, or angry about your decision. Remember that you are doing this to protect everyone involved.
      • Try this: I know you're angry/sad, ____. I am, too. Please remember that I'm doing this because I care about you, and I'm sorry it's hurting you, but it's hurting me, too.
  • Be clear and straightforward, using facts and rules to make your case. Take a matter-of-fact approach to explaining the current situation with COVID-19 and the risks associated with potentially transmitting the virus to your friends or family. Sharing your decisions in the context of risk shifts the focus to what you can do to protect your community. You can reference guidance for holiday celebrations from the CDC and DHS to help describe the risks.
    • Try this: COVID-19 is really bad here right now. I don't want to put you at risk, and I don't want you to put me at risk.
  • Use "I" statements. This will help make sure your friends and family don't feel like you are judging their conduct around COVID-19 and will make it clear that this is your personal decision. Reassure your friends and family that it isn't about them and that focusing on your own safety means you would rather not gather with anyone this year.
    • Try this: I understand you don't feel it's risky, and I understand that you're upset, but I know the risks are high and I would feel terrible if something happened to you.
  • Suggest a safe alternative. Adjust to the idea that this year will not look like any other holiday you have ever had before. Tap into your creativity, enlist your family and friends, and come up with some new options for spending time together and even holiday traditions.
    • Try this: I can't get together in person, but I'd love to figure out a way that we can still create memories. Can we brainstorm together? Maybe we could... (both bake the same cookies, all watch the same movie and then get together for a video chat, each send an email or letter to each other and other loved ones).

Coping and practicing resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic

We are all making changes to our lives to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities. It's important, but it's not easy, and we need to all remember that it's okay to ask for help. Learn how to recognize and manage stress as well as build resilience.

Last Revised: December 22, 2020