Becca Shears, Registered Clinical Counsellor in Vanderhoof, B.C. (Facebook photo)

Becca Shears, Registered Clinical Counsellor in Vanderhoof, B.C. (Facebook photo)

How to cope with your mental health during a global pandemic

Becca Shears, clinical counsellor in Vanderhoof speaks about ways to deal with stress and anxiety during this time.

A registered clinical counsellor in northern B.C. says that spending time in quarantine or physically distancing yourself from others can take a serious mental toll, but there are ways to deal with that stress and anxiety.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and the required physical distancing has affected people in many ways and it’s important to acknowledge that the stress and anxiety of these uncertain times can heighten our natural fears, which then negatively affect our emotional and mental health,” says Becca Shears, a licensed counsellor in Vanderhoof with 30 years of experience in the field.

Spending time in quarantine or just physically distancing can cause some people to feel like they have no control and are cut-off from the world despite access to the internet, the counsellor said. For some people living in rural areas, internet access can be difficult too.

“Feeling isolated can compromise your immune system, lead to poor sleep, poor cardiovascular health and impair your ability to focus, remember things, follow directions and manage your emotional state. If you struggled with depression or anxiety before this virus hit, it can impact your ability to cope with this stress,” she said.

The key to deal with our built-in ‘flight’ and ‘freeze’ response to stress is by first recognizing that we are reacting to stress, says Shears.

“The faster we can notice when it’s happening, the faster we can re-regulate the body. Breathe. Be curious. Breathe again.”

Once you notice that you are stressed, Shears says we need to take control of the situation, and try to move our minds into being more positive.

And yes, it is not easy. But possible, says the counsellor.

“If we become more mindful of noticing these negative states and begin to shift our focus to things that are inside our realm of control and release those emotions that our outside our realm of control, we can find peace in the stress, even for a moment,” she said.

One avenue Shears finds herself accessing, to help people reach those moments of peace is meditation and mindfulness, as a part of self-care. Focusing on your natural breath and the present moment is “the counterweight to the heavy sense of our own fragility,” Shears explained.

“And of course, be grateful for what you have, exercise, drink lots of water, eat healthy food, take your vitamins, read, write, dance, be creative, play a board game, or phone (or better yet, Skype) a friend. And don’t feel too badly about binge watching Netflix now and then because it can be a distraction that can focus our attention on something other than our negative emotional state.”

READ MORE: COVID-19 Relief Fund initiated by northern B.C. charity organization

Finding a routine is important, she said, adding that if you are working from home and have children who need their own structure and routine, everyone can feel overwhelmed.

“I recommend making a plan for activities, eating together, outside time, exercising, meditation, and anything else that can break up the monotony. My daughter kicked me off my computer to do a 6-minute dance workout on YouTube just last night. We have to be ready to just say Yes!”

Lastly, Shears said, talk to your children about COVID-19.

A lot of research has pointed that PTSD symptoms in children who have been quarantined is four times higher than those who had not gone through the same, the counsellor said.

“The Centre of Disease Control and Prevention recommends that parents and other adults talk to children about the Covid-19 outbreak in a reassuring and age appropriate way. We can remind ourselves and others that we are doing our part to protect those that are vulnerable.”

READ MORE: Researchers study how pandemic affecting people’s mental health


Aman Parhar
Editor, Vanderhoof Omineca Express

aman.parhar@ominecaexpress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirusmental health

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Permission to develop a residential treatment centre providing mental health and addiction recovery is being sought at the Tachick Lake Resort purchased by Carrier Sekani Family Services. (Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako photo)
Treatment centre eyed at former Tachick Lake Resort near Vanderhoof

Carrier Sekani Family Services awaiting adoption of rezoning bylaw

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
41 positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

The North Country Inn and Restaurant in Vanderhoof notified the public Friday morning of a positive, COVID-19 case for one of its workers. (Facebook photo)
North Country Inn and Restaurant employee tests positive for COVID-19

The North Country Inn and Restaurant said the employee had not been in contact with its patrons

Cases have gone up in Northern Health in the past week, as they have all over B.C. (K-J Millar/Black Press Media)
Northern Health reports new highest number of COVID-19 cases in one day

Nineteen cases were reported to Public Health last Tuesday (Nov. 17)

FILE – British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Masks now mandatory in all public indoor and retail spaces in B.C.

Many retailers and businesses had voiced their frustration with a lack of mask mandate before

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Barrels pictured outside Oliver winery, Quinta Ferreira, in May. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
B.C. Master of Wine reflects on industry’s teetering economic state

Pandemic, for some wine makers, has been a blessing in disguise. For others, not so much.

An employee of the Adventure Hotel was taken to hospital on Nov. 20 after she confronted a customer of Empire Coffee about not wearing a mask. File photo.
Nelson hotel employee suffers heart attack after being assaulted in anti-mask incident

An accountant at the Adventure Hotel is in hospital in Kelowna

Most Read