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Managing Stress and Burnout in - and after - a Global Pandemic

Over the past 15 months, we’ve all been forced to re-examine and change how we do things, from something as simple as getting groceries and filling up the car, to how we work and earn money.

Burnout and depression have become prevalent, as more and more folks struggle with the changes happening and the pressure to “keep up”, even if from the outside it looks like we’re actually doing less.

Less travelling, less commuting for work, less events to attend….

But the reality is, trying to maintain a level of normalcy in all of this is exhausting. There’s no denying it, things have changed. And trying to keep things as normal as possible puts significant strain on our systems - leading to stress and burnout.

And now approaching a moment where the opposite is happening - vaccines have been rolling out, and things are starting to reopen again.

We’re allowed to see more friends and family.

We’re allowed to go to restaurants in groups.

We’re allowed to shop for non-essential items.

And some people are starting to have conversations about returning to the office.

We’re experiencing a different kind of stress now - anxiety about having to go back to the way things were. Of course, some people are excited about getting back to a pre-pandemic life. But for many the thought of interacting with or being in close proximity to so many strangers again is a sudden shift they’re not prepared for.

In an article for WebMD, Bethany Teachman, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia and director of its Program for Anxiety, Cognition and Treatment Lab, explained that “there’s a tendency to take a situation that’s ambiguous or uncertain and assign a really threatening, negative meaning to it.”

“You should go into things expecting that things will feel strange for a while. That’s a very natural reaction in light of what’s been going on, and it doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you if you’re feeling some anxiety or stress at doing things you haven’t done for a very long time,” she says. “When people attach a lot of negative meanings to becoming anxious and think that it means they’re weak or something is terrible about them, it actually tends to make it worse.”

If you’re feeling anxious, remember that there is no need to rush into any scenario that you’re not comfortable with, regardless of what the Health Canada guidelines are.

You can continue wearing a mask when mask restrictions are lifted.

You can restrict dinner with friends to meeting just one or two on an outdoor patio.

You can continue to stay within your local community.

Remember that it is completely up to you how you proceed as the city and country begins to re-open.

If you’re struggling with your anxiety and are looking for support as we transition through this period, email me to book a counseling session today.

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