COVID-19: Managing the anxiety curve
The Weather Network's Chris St. Clair and a panel of experts discuss the effects of the global pandemic on our psyches and the role weather can play in our well-being.
Life can be stressful on an average day -- and now our days are anything but normal, with as many as 3 billion people under some form of COVID-19-related lockdown.
It's an unprecedented situation that has combined and compounded several anxieties: We can't be with our friends and our extended families, some of us are worried about job security, and we're trying to stay healthy.
To make matters worse, some of our usual distractions -- like watching sports, going to the movies, or enjoying a vacation or spa day -- are off the table, possibly for weeks.
In the latest edition of Viral Weather, our own Chris St. Clair sat down with Steve Lurie, Director of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CAMH) in Toronto and Martin Ricketts Jr., a retired clinical social worker in New York who has worked for the New York City Department of Health, to talk about preserving mental health during the COVID-19 crisis.
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"Folks who have a routine ... if all of that is taken away, and you're forced to be home, little things become more irritating especially if you don't have a lot of space. It can be challenging," Ricketts acknowledges.
Lurie invites people to visit the CAMH website which has resources available for people struggling with pandemic anxiety.
He says that while the situation can feel overwhelming, it's important to acknowledge that quarantining is the new normal, and it may be that way for several weeks.
"People need to accept that social distancing, or the inability to go to work, or the need to work virtually has changed things, but most of us aren't going to get COVID-19 [because of government initiatives]," he says, "and that's a good news story."
"We have to recognize the truth of the situation. We may not like having to wear a mask or having to stay at home, but we have to recognize that this is our reality, maybe for several weeks."
Experts say acknowledging the new normal may preserve mental health. File photo: Getty Images.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
Here are some other tips to protect your mental health in the age of coronavirus.
Limit how much news you take in.
Expose yourself to nature. Go for a socially-distant walk or, just step outside your front door and feel the fresh air.
Check in on friends and family via social media or phone.
Eat healthy and stay active and hydrated.
Be kind to yourself.
Remember: We are all in this together.
Look for local resources, such as CMHA’s BounceBack, that help provide coaching for people with anxiety and depression
SEEKING PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL HELP
In Canada, there are online resources you can consult to determine if you have symptoms, what steps you should take, and who to contact with questions or concerns.
You can find your provincial COVID-19 landing page here.
"Many medical practices have moved to virtual care" in light of COVID-19, Lurie says If you feel you may have been infected, "You might want to check in with their family doctor to see what the options are."