How to kick COVID sadness to the curb
By Brandon Yip, Senior Columnist
The pandemic in 2020 was a life changer for many. Our way of life has been altered; we are no longer free to socialize with friends and colleagues as we had before. Standing six feet apart from each other was never something that we considered—apart from moving away from someone who just released a nasty fart or had really bad hygiene!
Nevertheless, the pandemic has taken its toll on many people. We are inherently social creatures, so being away from others while confined at home for extended periods has affected our overall mental and physical health.
Trying to cope with the “holiday blues”—especially during the pandemic—has made it even more challenging. Leigh Larosa, a psychotherapist at Progressive Preventative Health, states that the holiday season is a very sad time for many people. “Typically, the holidays are viewed as a time of happiness and great joy, but it’s also a time of reflection and that time of reflection can bring about sadness.”
Furthermore, Jennifer Hollinshead, a clinical counsellor and founder of Peak Resilience (based in Vancouver), hosts free online support groups for people having difficulty coping during the holiday season—especially during the pandemic. Hollinshead’s advises that people be cognizant of the negative feelings they are experiencing—such as “catastrophic” thinking. This type of thinking can be unbearable and prevent a person from taking productive action. “When you’re catastrophizing, when you’re thinking, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to be so unhappy over the holidays,’ usually your brain stops there and you just panic.”
Hollinshead recommends one method to stop this cycle of negative thinking: shift your mindset. “If you say something to yourself like, ‘OK, well then what? What am I going to do?’ It really takes you from that catastrophizing helpless perspective and it moves you through ‘Okay, worst-case scenario, you are on your own. Then what?’” Hollinshead says that incorporating this technique can restore a person’s power to be able to think clearly and make plans.
Self-care is another essential cornerstone in conquering the January blues. Nataxja Cini, a therapist in Ottawa who operates Family Therapy, emphasizes on the importance of being there for yourself. “Whether it’s doing a puzzle, spending time online gaming with friends, painting, running, reading a book, working out, or having a hot bath find the activities you enjoy that help you feel refreshed and recharged.”
Lastly, reaching out to your doctor or health care professional, along with family and friends virtually should never be discounted. If people are still feeling sad and depressed entering a new calendar year, psychotherapist Leigh Larosa advises that they speak with their doctor and friends. “If you are alone, just know you’re not alone. This year , there [were] many people experiencing the same feelings.”
Douglas College counselling services:
To book a 50-minute appointment, call 604-527-5486 or 604-777-6185. Due to COVID-19, all appointments will be booked as remote counselling sessions (via Zoom or phone). If you are in crisis or have an urgent concern, urgent appointments (same-day) are available most afternoons.
Canada Suicide Prevention Helpline (1-833-456-4566)
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (1-800-463-2338)
Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868)