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

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

Interior Health reported 91 new COVID-19 cases in the region Jan. 20, 2021 and three additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

Another member of Vernon’s Noric House has passed

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
RCMP investigating suspicious trailer found abandoned in Cache Creek

Hazardous materials believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs were found

The trustees of the Spences Bridge Improvement District argue that one reason the EV charging station (l) should be moved is because it could compromise emergency response from the nearby fire hall. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Time is running out for Spences Bridge EV charging station

Lease for the site runs out at the end of January and no new agreement has been reached

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

Most Read