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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Being cooped up is leading to coronavirus rudeness

Experts said it is not uncommon for people to take out their anxiety on essential workers like cashiers and store clerks.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — As the coronavirus lock down continues, so does the stress and anxiety that comes with it.

“I think it’s bad for our mental health, just being cooped up - can’t be a good thing,” said shopper Briana Dunfee.

Places most people still have to go, even during home isolation, are grocery stores, convenience stores, and possibly pharmacies.

That’s when all that bottled up anxiety can find a place to burst out, which isn’t surprising to experts who talked with News 8 about stay-at-home orders and our mental health.

“At work, we walk around and chitchat a bit - tell people 'hi,' and all of that gives our mind a little bit of a break," said psychiatrist, Dr. Gayani Desilva.

Dr. Desilva said it’s not uncommon for people, under stressful circumstances, to take their aggression or frustrations out on cashiers and other essential workers.

“Everybody is under so much stress and one of our key defense mechanisms is transference,” Dr. Desilva said. “So, you just transfer your anxiety and anger, your inability to control the situation onto somebody else.”

Multiple grocery and pharmacy employees told News 8 about being yelled at for how they picked up canned food or were berated for asking people to social distance.

Workers have even experienced outrage over the lack of certain supplies.

“Unfortunately, our unconscious, stressed-out, anxious minds, let go and vent on these people who are just trying to help us,” Dr. Desilva said.

One grocery store cashier told News 8 she thinks things are getting better, but the angry customers are angrier than ever. She feels the kind ones outnumber them. She tries not to let it ruin her day even though she’s stressed out as well.

Some shoppers who spoke with News 8 said they are stressed but they do not take it out on people who are just doing their jobs while also putting themselves at a higher risk.

“Definitely don’t take it out on the grocery store workers or healthcare professionals. I mean these are people who are helping us get through this, get through this crazy world we live in now,” said Vons customer Tommy Brookshire.

Dr. Desilva echoed that sentiment.

“We need to manage our own anxiety and our own stress and it’s not anybody’s fault that we’re stressed," she said. 

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