Can I get real here? We find ourselves in very difficult and unsettling times. As a mental health professional, I am struggling to provide a sense of hope or assurance to my clients during this time. What can I say? What can I offer? So, let’s be honest. It is scary. Yep, we can admit that we feel scared!  It feels as if control is slipping through our fingers. Things are changing every day…even hour by hour.

Over the past few days, I have been focusing on what I know to be true. I would like to share some of these thoughts with you.

 

  1. It is ok to feel anxious. FULL STOP. You do not need to put on a brave face and pretend that you are fine. Anxiety is normal. It feels different for everyone. Some folks get sweaty, others find themselves feeling angry or bursting into tears. Other people experience a tightness in their chest or racing heartbeat. Anxiety looks and feels different for each person. Please remember to be kind to yourself and others as we are all doing the best we can. Some great resources for anxiety can be found at anxietycanada.com

 

  1. It is ok to feel disappointed. For many of us, plans have changed. Trips are cancelled. Events are postponed. School is stopped for the unforeseeable future. Many folks have lost their jobs. These are extremely disappointing times. Something I have noticed lately is, when someone is sharing their disappointment, they try to downplay it because it is “not as bad as someone else” So now, folks are heaping shame unto their disappointment. Please do not do this. You are allowed to feel your feelings. I would love to give you permission: you are allowed to feel disappointed even if your disappointment is less than someone else’s.

 

  1. BREATHE. It sounds trivial, but I cannot stress the importance enough. I tell my clients from the little ones to the not as little ones; breathing is the fastest way for your body to calm down. I am not talking about small shallow breaths; these need to be deep down in your belly breaths. Slow, deep breath provides your brain and your body the fuel it needs to continue to support you and calm you down.

Some great resources on helping with breathing and calming down can be found at calm.com.

 

  1. DO NOT FEED THE FEAR; FOCUS ON FACTS

Just because something is on the internet, does NOT make it true.

Some questions to ask yourself:

Is this information coming from a valuable source?

How do I feel when I am reading this?

Is this helpful for me?

Some reliable sources may include:

Fraser Health Authority

Vancouver Coastal Health

BC Centre for Disease Control (and the BC COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool)

 

  1. Limit your time online.

Reading articles, searching for answers, watching clips and listening to perspectives and options sometimes just gets a bit too much. Turn off your phone. Power down your computer. Your mental health will thank you.

Some things to try instead:

If you can, get outside and go for a walk.

Start a hobby- pick up that guitar, start writing that book, paint, colour, draw

Read a book

Have a nap

Clean your house

Organize your closets

If you need some screen time, try these:

Watch a movie.

Start a new series on Netflix

Take an online class, lots of universities are providing free courses…a FREE online course from Harvard…um…YES PLEASE!

Take a virtual tour of a famous museum

 

  1. CONNECT. Just because we are keeping our social distance, does NOT been we need to be distant from each other. Take this time to check in with folks:

Text.

Call.

Have tea via Facetime.

Send an email.

We need each other. Make sure you are reaching out when you need to connect. I know this is difficult for some folks, so be gentle with yourself and do what you can.

 

We have also just launched the COVID-19 Online Community Mental Health Support Group. This online community support group is focused on helping folks check in and process their feelings in a safe and secure clinical setting, with a special focus on tools to manage anxiety. If you think this would be helpful for you, please read more about it through the link above.

Or, would you prefer talking one-on-one with a counsellor? At Alongside You we are working hard to enact precautionary measures that so that clients can safely continue to attend in-person appointments if they choose to – please see our social media for all the precautionary measures we’re taking as a clinic. We also are offering online counselling appointments for any clients who may prefer to receive therapy from home during this time. If you would like to be paired with a counsellor and booked for a first appointment, the best way to get in touch at the moment is to fill out our contact page.

We are doing our best to respond to messages as soon as possible. If you have a counsellor already, please reach out to them directly for more information about booking a session, whether in-person or online.

For many of us, things feel out of our control. We wait. We wonder. We try to plan. I would encourage us all to focus on what each of us can do.

 

What are the things within our control?

Wash your hands. Often.

If you feel sick, STAY HOME.

Keep a social distance. 6 ft is recommended.

Practice gratitude each day.

Don’t forget to breathe.

 

The unknown is scary. Uncertainty is hard. Yet, as I tell my clients:

“We can do HARD things…together.”

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