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According to the director and clinical psychologist of the Toronto Psychology Clinic, Dr. Saunia Ahmad, a phenomenon that people experience gradually after each lockdown is called learned helplessness.
“Learned helplessness refers to when what we are doing to achieve a particular outcome is not working,” explained Ahmad, and added that if one focuses on positive coping mechanisms, they can minimize the ‘impact this has on their overall mood. .
“It’s really important actually, that we recognize and validate our emotions and during this time, don’t judge or perceive ourselves very critically or harshly,” Dr Mariyam Ahmed, a psychologist at Narcity, told Narcity. Toronto.
Narcity spoke to the two psychologists about some coping strategies that may be helpful as the province settles into new lockdowns for the next few weeks.
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Make a simple routine you to know you can stay with
“It is especially important at this time to make sure that you are taking care of your physical and mental well-being with the lockdown restrictions and to focus where you can to best take care of yourself because these lockdowns we know they are not permanent, they are temporary, things will get better, but we just need to stay positive, stay focused, stay determined, ”said Dr Saunia Ahmad.
The current restrictions are expected to remain in place in Ontario until at least January 26. Since these health measures remain in place for the next several weeks, your daily routines might have been disrupted. But, both psychologists stressed the importance of creating and sticking to a simple routine that you know you can follow.
“One of the biggest problems is that people come up with a good plan and they can’t execute it because it’s too much, too hard, and too different from what they usually do. are not used to training in the morning because they did it after work, it is difficult to implement, ”she continued.
“Keep it simple and easy to do. “
When creating a new goal that you want to stick to, Dr Mariyam Ahmed shared an easy-to-remember acronym called SMART.
“You want your goal to be specific, you want it to be measurable, you want it to be attainable, realistic and timely,” Ahmed said, and used a consistent workout routine as an example.
“What are you going to do, is it going to be yoga so you make it specific? How measurable means how many times a week? Is that realistic? Maybe you are not morning at 5 am, so don’t be sure that’s a goal. “
Talk to people
One of the most difficult things for people during the lockdown right now is the lack of social connection, Ahmad explained, because people are biologically wired to socialize as part of survival.
“Connection would be very important now,” Ahmad said and advised meeting people who are in your social bubble or even going out and socializing with others.
Ahmed says use social media to your advantage and use it to connect with loved ones, meet new people, or reconnect with friends you haven’t spoken to in a while.
“Be proactive in reaching out to people, you know you can’t see people in person that easily,” Ahmed said.
“With social media and technology at our fingertips, whether it’s a text message, phone call, or video call, we can definitely learn more about each other. “
But, to avoid feeling tired of one form of communication, Ahmed advised changing the format.
Keep your mind engaged
Starting a new activity or hobby that you’ve always wanted to engage in can help improve your mood during this time, so life doesn’t get too boring while you’re at home.
“Whether it’s cooking something, learning a language online or with a friend, starting to read, learning art or something that interests you, or even a bunch of online games. , [just] something new that you can think of adding, ”Ahmed advised.
“Try to remember that staying active has been linked to improved mood and energy,” Dr Mariyam Ahmed explained.
Even if that means just going for a brisk walk or working out with an online training group, it’s one way to improve your mood.
Dr Saunia Ahmad also recommends exercising and taking care of your diet and sleep patterns.
“If you don’t, you are also more vulnerable to depression, anxiety and stress,” Ahmad said.
Take the time to unplug
“It is also very important that we set limits on the amount of information we consume about the pandemic and the time we spend on social media and in the news,” Ahmed said.
While it’s good to stay on top of what’s going on, Ahmed advises setting some limits on the amount of information you collect.
Giving back to your community
Besides practicing self-care habits or routines right now, people can also take care of themselves by helping others.
“Research shows that giving back and helping has a really good positive impact on mood,” Ahmad said.
“There are a lot of volunteer opportunities, people needing help during COVID with shopping, or immunization clinics needing volunteers. Find volunteer opportunities to give back to the community. It can have a really good effect on your mood as well, and it also helps you connect with people. “
What resources can Ontarians use to seek help?
“Talking to a professional psychologist is definitely helpful if you feel like some of these mood and anxiety issues are getting to a point where they are interfering with your day-to-day life,” Ahmed said and added that family physicians will have some resources for those who need them.
Ahmad shared some of the many online resources that Ontarians can also refer to.
“The Canadian Mental Health Association, cmha.ca, which I found particularly useful, has a website with a list of resources of many different types that include mental health, online tools and online information. Ahmad said.
Torontonians can also check out the city’s website, as they have several COVID-19 mental health resources that local residents can choose from.
“Finally, there is also askforhelptoday.ca, which is a new platform that the Ontario Psychological Association developed during COVID to help people be matched with a psychologist within two to three business days as well,” Ahmad shared and added to there are tons of resources that people can find with a quick Google search online.
If you or someone you know suffers from depression or mental health issues, please contact a peer, parent or healthcare professional you trust. You can also contact the Crisis Services Canada hotline, which is available 24 hours a day to speak or consult additional resources. If you need immediate assistance, please dial 911 or go to the nearest hospital. Assistance is available.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
The cover image for this article is used for illustration purposes only.