Overwhelmed By The Never-Ending COVID News? A Montreal Psychologist Offered Tips To Cope

"Focus on the things you have control over," Dr. Wendy Wood advised.

Staff Writer
Overwhelmed By The Never-Ending COVID News? A Montreal Psychologist Offered Tips To Cope

It seems like all we've read and talked about for the last two years is COVID-19 — in the news, at our dinner tables, on posters all over the city. And at times, this can feel extremely overwhelming for some.

So we spoke with Dr. Wendy Wood, a Montreal psychologist and founder of Wood Psychology, about the effects the pandemic has had on people's mental health and ways to cope with the stress our ever-changing pandemic reality may cause.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

How can people deal with a situation where they feel they've already used all of their coping mechanisms for the first two years of the pandemic, and now it feels worse?

I think what has made the situation worse is the fact that this virus has been so unpredictable and has resulted in a roller coaster in terms of restrictions.

This fall we were under the impression that we were out of the woods — and then enters the Omicron variant, and the timing is a perfect storm with the approaching holidays and people looking forward to spending time with their family and friends, something they were unable to do last holiday season.

I think most of us are tired and frustrated with the situation. I would advise people to continue connecting and getting support from others, even if it's via video; exercise; eat well; and the most important thing is monitoring social media and news consumption, as these increase feelings of anxiousness and depression.

Focus on the things you have control over, and accept that we will simply have to ride out this next wave.

If these strategies don't keep you afloat, don't be afraid to reach out to a mental health professional.

What emotions are most common in situations of prolonged bad news?

People are experiencing a range of emotions — from frustration from things closing down again, to sadness for cancelled family events and vacations.

What if it does get worse? Are there ways to mentally prepare in advance?

I don't think it serves people well to make predictions about what might happen in the future. There's no point in worrying about something that hasn't happened and might not happen.

The Omicron variant is very contagious, but so far all the data they have collected points to it resulting in less severe illness, so it's both bad and good news.

Instead of mentally preparing for future events, it's better to live the best you can in this moment and accept that we have no control over what will happen in the future.

What effect has the pandemic had on the mental health of the public so far?

The pandemic has raised many existential issues for people: once you strip away or limit our stimulating activities like eating in restaurants, travelling, going to sporting events and bars, dancing, etc., people have been left searching for meaning.

This has led anxiety and depression to skyrocket, but it also has resulted in many people refocusing on what is really important in life, like sustaining important relationships and taking care of one's health.

For other people, they are transitioning out of careers and entering new ones, as well as readjusting to working from home. It's been two years of transitioning and readjusting and learning to live with uncertainty, the latter being especially difficult for people who were already prone to anxiety and depression pre-pandemic.

This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

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