For over 6 weeks now, we have been told to do everything in our power to follow Alberta Health Services guidelines to stay home, social distance, proper hygiene, be vigilant. Now, with the provincial government’s announcement of a relaunch strategy to get Alberta started again, it may be causing mixed emotions for residents. It has been noted that people are feeling happy while at the same time anxious about the endeavour. 

Dr. Patrick Keelan, a registered psychologist says our anxiety is warranted during these unprecedented times. “Anytime there is a new venture a challenge coming up and you haven’t experienced it yet, it is normal to be somewhat anxious about it. A bit of the fear of the unknown.” Hence, the reason that we are feeling trepidation with the gradual lifting of the restrictions surrounding the pandemic, we are entering an unknown phase in the experience.

Dr. Keelan says there are coping skills that we can use to deal with the anxiety caused by the new phase. The first being, Problem Focus Coping which Dr Keelan says is, “Taking action to address the threat or the source of concern to lower or reduce it. In this case, that would involve taking action to make it less likely that when you go out you will catch the virus. A good example is an action that the government and businesses have been doing to ensure our safety. Another example is by people taking action in things that we can control such as social distancing, hand washing, wearing a mask, and not touching your face.”

The other coping skill that Dr. Keelan says we can use is Self-focus Coping which entails, as the doctor says, “Things that we can do in the way we think about this situation to reduce our anxiety to a manageable level. Sometimes what people do in their minds is they engage in catastrophic thinking.” One of the ways to combat that is to get information and accurately assess that. If you are taking precautions and you’re not making unnecessary trips out and you are adhering to all the best practices the likely of you catching it is probably lower than you might be assuming at first glance.”

So, as we enter the next phase of living with COVID 19 outside the confines of our safe homes we must accept the fact that we are going to be somewhat anxious. However, it is important not to let the anxiety mount to a disabling level. There is help to deal with the anxiety and part of that help is to continue to follow the rules and guidelines Alberta Health and the government have laid out for us. As Dr. Deena Hinshaw keeps repeating we are all in this together and it is up to us to work together to beat the virus…lesson one in Problem Focus Coping.

For more information from Dr. Patrick Keelan, click here.