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Fear, anxiety, loneliness natural amid coronavirus crisis, but letting them linger is a dangerous game

Last Updated Apr 2, 2020 at 11:10 am PDT

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Summary

With so much out of our control throughout the COVID-19 crisis, feelings of anxiety and stress are increasing for many

A UBC psychologist says it's normal to feel anxiety and stress amid the pandemic, but social connections are important

When you see something good, psychologist Elizabeth Dunn stresses the importance of hanging on to it

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – With so much out of our control throughout the COVID-19 crisis, feelings of anxiety and stress are only increasing for many.

With a recognition that not only are we in this together, but we’re in it for the long haul, UBC Psychologist Elizabeth Dunn said on The Big Story Podcast, reaching out to talk to someone could be the boost you or your loved ones need.

“Social connection is a fundamental human need. We have to satisfy it, it is not a luxury,” she said, adding reaching out to loved ones can serve as an important lift for both you and them.

“Video calls can serve as an imperfect but still valuable source of connection.”

In the last few weeks, most of us have experienced feelings of dread, or even an uncertainty that seems crippling at times; that’s normal, Dunn explained.

So when you see something good, she stressed the importance of hanging on to it.

“Be kind,” Dunn said. “Just find opportunities for kindness.”

Describing a moment where she recently met her neighbours for the first time, Dunn said she felt a “real sense of connection and warmth” as they gathered to cheer at 7 p.m. for healthcare workers.

“I really just tried to hold on to that. When I got a little bit of it, I made the most of it. I shared it on Facebook and looked at other peoples’ Facebook pages from elsewhere in the city … I took that little kernel of positivity and really tried to make the most of it, but I wasn’t just trying to pull it out of nowhere from the depths of devastation,” said Dunn.

Once you get the boost you need, it’s time to set yourself up for success down the road, according to Dunn, who said she uses the time she feels better to be creative, solve problems and plan for tomorrow.

“So we need to seize those positive moments… use those times where you’re feeling reasonably good to do some problem solving and think ‘Okay, how can we set up the best system for ourselves so that we’re ready for things if they get even crazier than they are right now?”

Meditation is suggested by some, as is exercise — even indoors – to maintain a level of happiness.

According to the World Health Organization, keeping a routine and regular sleep are also important during times like these.

The British Columbia Government directs people to the Canadian Government resources on mental health and COVID-19 which also highlights mindfulness, eating well, sleeping and connection as essential steps toward wellbeing.

Help is available 24 hours a day online.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, call 1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE), or call your local crisis centre.