Tuesday, January 18, 2022

‘There seems to be no end’: how to survive through another pandemic wave CBC News

It may feel like a lifetime ago, but it’s only been six weeks since many Canadians were excitedly planning holiday travel and looking forward to celebrating in person with loved ones — some even booking trips.

That was a different time. There was a time when cases of COVID-19 were declining amid increased vaccination.

Then, on 26 November, The World Health Organization declared a new coronavirus “type of concern”.

Omicron appears to have caused millions of stomachs to clump together and demoralize. Those who were starting to light up at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel went dark again, followed closely by their moods. But there is hope, mental health experts say.

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How will this pandemic end?

Dr. Christopher Modi of the University of Calgary’s Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases says that until we stop the virus that prevents COVID-19 from mutating, it will continue to take different forms. Solution? “We need people to get vaccinated,” he says. 6:05

“It was just that feeling of, ‘Oh, I just give up,'” said Claudia Casper, a writer and creative writing teacher at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

Casper, 64, who has been double-vaccinated and raised, had plans to have 22 people at his West Vancouver home for Christmas. With the news from Omicron, the party was reduced to 10 fully vaccinated guests.

‘You just want to stop wanting anything’

But when Casper’s husband woke up from his Christmas nap and felt exhausted, everything changed. They didn’t know it was COVID-19, but an hour before the guests arrived, they called everyone and canceled.

“There’s a point where you just want to stop wanting anything,” Casper said. “Because it’s too hard or too hard to beat.”

In fact, mental health experts say that the longer the stress lasts, the more damage is done to people’s mental health.

Last spring, Dr. Roger McIntyre described COVID-19 as a source of “daily, unpredictable, deadly stress” There is a physical effect on the mind of the people. It left people feeling hopeless and defeated, wondering how they would get through this period.

Professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of Toronto said the good news was that the brain is resilient and once the stress is gone, it will recover.

'There seems to be no end': how to survive through another pandemic wave CBC News
Roger McIntyre, professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of Toronto, says coping with uncertainty can be difficult. (Submitted by Roger McIntyre)

But, nine months later, the brain is still broken, McIntyre says, worrying many people now “How do I get over this?” from ‘When is this pandemic ending?’

“It is concerning,” he said, “because it speaks to, I think, an underlying fear that it is going on and on.”

It can be difficult for individuals to be resilient in the face of such a vast unknown.

“It’s a series of effects and uncertainties, but the biggest one is that you can’t really plan,” said Regard Ferreira, director of the Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy and associate professor at Tulane University’s School of Social Work in New Orleans. said.

“We’re two years into it and, yeah… there’s no end in sight,” he said.

Write yourself a ‘pleasant activity’

So how does one stay strong?

McIntyre advises people to control what they can to maintain a sense of agency over themselves and their environment.

“You have to write the pleasure activity for yourself,” he said. “You have to write the cognitive activity for yourself. You have to write the physical activity for yourself.”

And it even comes back to basics: Get enough sleep, get enough physical activity. And, McIntyre said, portion-control is key when it comes to eating and drinking alcohol.

“The higher you rate your level of self-control,” he said, “the lower you report stress and anxiety levels in your life.

'There seems to be no end': how to survive through another pandemic wave CBC News
Regardt Ferreira, an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at Tulane University in New Orleans, says people often come out of disasters better equipped to deal with adversity again in the future. (Submitted by Reggie Ferreira)

Ferreira, who has studied the impact of both natural and technological disasters on people’s resilience, said there is evidence that once individuals experience a disaster — whether it’s a flood or a fire, a nuclear meltdown or an oil spill. – They are often better equipped than the other end. Tackle the disaster again.

“The more disasters you experience, the more prepared you are,” he said. “This then leads to resilience, as well, in the long run, because you have an idea of ​​what to expect.”

He was also part of a study that looked at predictors of resilience in pandemic situations.

Ferreira said that in this current major wave of COVID-19, Canadians have a lot of experience. “So we have an idea of ​​what to expect and what measures to take, and that helps increase our resilience.”

There is a need to gain comfort and strength in maintaining social distance, wearing masks and sanitizing one’s hands, he said. “It sounds simple, but it seems to be what works,” he said.

‘More isolated… more worry’

Still, McIntyre said, humans do not have infinite flexibility.

“There’s no return for some people and it sets in motion, you know, problems like depression that they experience long after the stress is gone.”

already, kids help phone said it has seen a 127 percent increase in conversations related to COVID-19 topics since November 2021 – just before the emergence of Omicron. From canceled vacation plans and missing friends and family to worry about falling behind in school, the topics of calls and texts touched on everything.

Texts about suicide also increased by 209 percent and conversations about depression increased by almost the same.

All of this together, said Alisa Simon, chief youth and innovation officer, KidsHelp Phone’s executive vice president, suggests young people are “feeling more isolated, feeling more anxious, feeling sad, at a loss.” feeling the feeling of.”

No pressure to ‘bounce back’

Casper – whose husband ended up testing negative for COVID-19 – said he would have described himself as “resilient” before the pandemic, and is confident she will recover.

“I’ll bounce back, but I think I’ll fall apart. I’m really interested to see,” she said.

'There seems to be no end': how to survive through another pandemic wave CBC News
Claudia Casper, seen here with her dog Lucita, says she feels like she will go through the pandemic okay but will be different. (Aisleen Hunter)

Ferreira says it will be important for some people not to feel pressured to bounce back the way they were.

“Resilience is really your ability to face adversity and what lessons do you learn to cope or grow from your experience in the future,” he said.

Society favors resilience, but Ferreira said imposing uniform expectations across the board can be harmful.

“Not everyone has the means because they don’t have access to the resources to make them resilient,” he said.

However, both Ferreira and McIntyre come back over and over again, it’s the benefit of simple human connection.

“If you’re feeling down it’s just someone to stop by,” he said, “and then, you know what resources are available — whether it’s an online discussion forum or an online group they can participate in. “

“We are people of resilience,” McIntyre said. “The more innate internal resources you have in your community, your family, and the more supportive you are going to be to adapt and the resilient you are going to be.”

If you need help, or just need someone to talk to, here are some resources:

  • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868. You can also text CONNECT to 686868.
  • Wellness Together Canada: Provides support to children, adults, frontline workers and indigenous peoples
  • Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566, and in French at 1-866-APPELLE 1-866-277-3553
  • Hope of Wellness Line for Indigenous Peoples: 1-855-242-3310. You can also join online.
  • Crisis Services Canada: 1 (833) 456-4566 (24/7) or by text at 45645 (4 a.m. to 12 noon)
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