In the last 3 months, we have read, heard, viewed or talked with friends, family, coworkers, scientists, officials and others, and have been exposed all kinds of views, opinions, facts and counter facts. The human brain seeks comfort in consistency and at least a sense of temporary certainty. Alas, we don’t have that.

How do you deal with those in your life when it comes to restrictions regarding the coronavirus? Masks, face coverings, social distancing, and other preventive measures have become not only political, but unfortunately and regrettably, reflective of one’s strength of character or personality, or one’s concepts of freedom and social responsibility.

So of course we now have comparisons to the past just in case lessons learned may help in the present. There is the seat belt issue. People opposing it in the beginning as a curtailment of their choices. Well, here we are, with that law in place. A better comparison especially for the LGBTQ community is the AIDS pandemic and wearing condoms. What can one conclude from how the preventive measure took hold? Seeing the death toll, taking note of the scientific facts, and also because the condom makers came out with all kinds of varieties that looked cool. Will the same strategy work with masks?

It all comes back to our tolerance and ability to deal with uncertainty, to not always knowing solid facts and being able to deal with the world despite that. It is a skill that will see us through this disaster but also give us the basis for negotiating all kinds of ambiguous events that lead to anxiety. It is estimated that 33% of the US population is experiencing some level of anxiety today. Maybe we can diminish that more effectively and deal with that feeling of being uneasy and out of sorts. Anxiety takes its toll on us, on our partners, families and friends. If you have been around it, you know how you can pick it up almost unconsciously.

In the nucleus of anxiety lies a sense of lack of control, which, with a deadly and invisible virus, is energized in the most powerful way. Taking action, doing the preventive measures, focusing on healthy habits such as eating well, sleeping enough and engaging in physical activity counter that lack of control. I encourage you all to practice those, to maintain contact with those you care for with distancing, and know that we will get through this, together. Are we not all in the same boat?

Author Profile

Janan Broadbent, PhD
Janan Broadbent, PhD
As a psychologist in private practice since 1979, Janan Broadbent, Ph. D. offers individual, couples, group and family therapy, in addition to conducting workshops on topics such as stress management, communication skills and assertiveness. She writes about current issues relevant to relationship building and conflict resolution in LGBTQ and minority populations, with emphasis on health, fitness and education.

Born in Turkey, Dr. Broadbent earned her undergraduate degree in psychology in 1965. At that time, first as a Fulbright Scholar, then as a CENTO Fellow, she received her master's and doctorate degrees in psychology and education from the University of California at Los Angeles. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in psychology at St.Mary's College of Maryland, Mt. Vernon College in Washington, D. C., Johns Hopkins University and the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore. From 1981 to 1988, she was also the Director of Counseling at Notre Dame College.
While in graduate school, Dr. Broadbent worked for the Voice of America radio program, writing and recording materials on the cross-cultural college experience. She has been interviewed on various news programs on TV and has received media training.
Dr. Broadbent is a member of the American Psychological Association and has served as the chair for the Public Affairs Board and as a member of the Executive Council of the Maryland Psychological Association.
Dr. Broadbent's office is located at:
Village of Cross Keys, 120 West Quadrangle, 2 Hamill Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21210-1847 phone: 410-825-5577