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Psychologist, comedian talk COVID-19 anxiety and ways to beat it

Explaining COVID-19 to kids can be a challenge, but a Winnipeg psychologist says the way you do it is important.
Explaining COVID-19 to kids can be a challenge, but a Winnipeg psychologist says the way you do it is important. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

If navigating the COVID-19 pandemic with your family feels like you’re part of a big social experiment, you’re not alone.

A Winnipeg psychologist says trying to follow the ever-changing public health regulations of the pandemic can be difficult for anyone, but for parents, there’s an extra level of stress about how the situation will affect their kids.

“The truth is that it will have an impact, and it is having an impact,” Dr. Rehman Abdulrehman told 680 CJOB.

“We are probably going be seeing more anxiety in children.

“The good news is that we can adjust our own behaviour to help minimize the impact.”

Dr. Rehman Abdulrehman of Clinic Psychology Manitoba.
Dr. Rehman Abdulrehman of Clinic Psychology Manitoba. Clinic Psychology Manitoba

Abdulrehman said because parents give their children “the language of how to see life,” it’s important that parents reinforce that the pandemic and its associated rules are only temporary — what we have to do in this setting, for this time.

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“Children will learn by observing. A lot of behaviours, a lot of difficulties with mental health are not just temperamental, they’re what they learn from us — so if we’ve got a lot of anxiety about it, they’re going to have anxiety about it,” he said.

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“If we present them with a calm perspective, with a very nonchalant approach… that makes all the difference in the world.”

Read more: Winnipeg comedian to make light of coronavirus quarantine by reading to kids online

Kids aren’t the only ones, however, who might experience mental health issues in connection to the coronavirus pandemic.

A Winnipeg comedian and mental health advocate says his experience with the pandemic has left him the most depressed he’s been in 15 years, but he’s working his way through it.

“We ended up having to sell our house and downgrade quite a bit because it was the most prudent thing financially to do, and just sort of restructure. No crowds means no work for entertainers,” Big Daddy Tazz told 680 CJOB.

“We’re not destitute or anything like that, but I just want people to understand the impact this is having on entertainers in general. It’s a hard go.”

Tazz said what he misses the most isn’t the financial side of things, it’s getting that rush from performing in front of a crowd and making people smile.

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“Bringing the laughter — that’s my medication to myself,” he said.

“That’s what makes me feel worthwhile, what gives me a sense of belonging, a sense of being me. And it’s not there.”

Click to play video 'Health Matters: Supporting your child through back-to-school COVID anxiety' Health Matters: Supporting your child through back-to-school COVID anxiety
Health Matters: Supporting your child through back-to-school COVID anxiety

One of the ways Tazz has been keeping busy despite the lack of comedy work has been by reading to kids online — something he began at the beginning of the pandemic and never expected he’d still be doing regularly, 500 books in.

“March 18, I started… thinking it would only be a couple of days of me reading before people got bored, and last night was 196 days and the 500th book.

“The kids of all ages have been really supportive and I talk openly about my struggles with dyslexia, my struggles with my mental health… I kind of want to be the new Mr. Dressup, the new Friendly Giant. I’ve always wanted to be a children’s entertainer.”

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