With all of the focus being on physical health during the past several weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s mental health that needs to be at the forefront of people’s minds, says a local psychologist.
Social distancing, isolation and quarantines, as mandated by local, federal and global authorities like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), can have challenging effects on people, says Kirsten Sykes.
Pair the isolation with the 24-hour news cycles and opinion-based social media chatter that is available, mental health is very much in play right now, says Sykes, who has been operating Kristen Sykes Psychology Services in the region for several years.
With the stress and fear caused by what many are calling the “new normal” can cause people to develop conditions that can feel anything but normal.
Sykes says anyone dealing with anxiety or depression should concentrate on any positives they can find about the unique situation the entire global population finds itself in. Keeping busy, and keeping the mind busy is important.
“Focus on what you can do today, because we can’t do anything about tomorrow,” says Sykes. “Revel in the fact that you have time at home, enjoy doing the things that you never have time to do, purge your closets, give things to charity, and even though the gyms are closed, I encourage people to go out and get some exercise. Take advantage of the fact that people will be home, so call and talk to them on the phone so you don’t feel as alone.”
Another tip from Sykes involves stepping away from the constant stream of overlapping information, and being more mindful about the media being consumed.
“I always suggest staying off of social media. It’s important to stay informed — but make sure you are reading credible news sources,” says Sykes. “I would suggest staying off of social media any day of the week, but I especially recommend it right now, during the overflow of information about COVID-19.”
Help is available
Along with local resources, Alberta Health Services have several links and connections for the public to contact organizations in the mental health field.
The province’s Mental Health Hotline is – 1-877-303-2642.
Other resources can be found through the AHS website under this page banner titled Help in Tough Times.
*with files from Rob McKinley