Kelowna psychologist on the psychological impact of COVID-19 in extended interview

Coronavirus: Kelowna psychologist says we also need to take care of mental health
WATCH: We're staying inside, staying apart and working from home to try to flatten the curve. It's all to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

We’re staying inside, staying apart and working from home to try to flatten the curve. It’s all to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

It’s also a crucial time to also care for our mental health, according to Dr. Heather McEachern, a psychologist at the Kelowna Psychologists Group.

“The anxieties we are seeing in our office currently are basically health anxiety that even people that have never experienced before will have by varying degrees and even obsessive-compulsive tendencies,” said Dr. McEachern.

If you are experiencing these feelings or experiencing depression, she says, there are some coping mechanisms you can use.

“Things to do are schedule how much time you are going to watch the news, study what’s going on, become informed, make your action plans and engage in healthy distractions,” said Dr. McEachern.

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Distractions she recommends are a good book, a new workout routine you can do at home, painting, crafting and playing music, to name a few.

Coping with the psychological impacts of COVID-19
Coping with the psychological impacts of COVID-19

According to Dr. McEachern, though, the most important thing you can do to mitigate the psychological effects of COVID-19 is to choose your thoughts carefully.

“Choosing what you think about and when to think about it. Some people don’t realize you are the driver of your thoughts are rolling along in a vehicle. You have a steering wheel; never forget,” said Dr. McEachern.

“When you are deciding to replace worried thoughts with good thoughts, it’s a challenging task.”

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It’s challenging, but not totally impossible.

To help curb feelings of loneliness and depression, Dr. McEachern recommends staying as connected as possible.

“Our goal now is to assist people to structure their days and structure downtime, structure fun, structure socializing and to do so in predictable ways so your body gets into a new rhythm, because your body is without rhythm, looking for a rhythm,” said Dr. McEachern.

Dr. McEachern suggests calling up your friends to have an over-the-phone tea or coffee, schedule a virtual birthday party or night with your friends from the comfort of your living room or work out together online.

For people that are living in an environment that potentially threatens their physical or mental wellbeing. Dr. McEachern says to create a point of contact with someone who you can check in with every day, and if they don’t hear from you, they can then raise the alarm.

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