Focus on what you have and what you can control, ask for help, and get some fresh air.
That’s the trifecta of practical advice that a Kelowna-based registered professional counsellor is dispensing for people to cope with the anxiety, uncertainty and financial strain associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of people won’t ask for help, even if they’re isolated, because they see it as a sign of weakness,” said Amy Mosset, who owns Interactive Counselling in Kelowna and Grand Prairie, Alta.
“Asking for help is actually a sign of strength. Plus, it builds on the community feeling that we’re all in this together. Everyone is helping everyone, and that feels good and is inspiring.”
Mosset has seen the number of people and companies seeking help at both clinics spike since the novel coronavirus crisis started.
Generally, those seeking help fall into two groups: those working from home and struggling with the new reality, and those who have been laid off and face financial difficulties.
“First of all, I urge everyone to adjust expectations and focus on what they have,” said Mosset.
“No one will be evicted during this crisis, so focus on having a safe and comfortable home. Focus on family.”
Mosset urges those out of work and facing financial hardship to take advantage of every COVID-relief initiative offered, from expedited employment insurance and the one-time $1,000 payment from the B.C. government to the Emergency Relief Fund and deferral of mortgage, line of credit and utility payments.
Mosset defines this COVID-19 crisis as a traumatic time.
“People have different trauma triggers,” she said.
“There’s no right or wrong way to react. But get help and do what works for you.”
For people isolated and working from home, there might not be immediate financial worry because they are still receiving a paycheque.
“However, working from home and having your routine upended comes with its own problems,” said Mosset.
“If you are working from home, try to keep the same schedule as you would on a work day. Get up at the same time, go through your regular morning route of showering, getting dressed and having breakfast and starting work. You may be tempted to just stay in your pyjamas all day, but that’s actually a slippery slope because it rolls back self-worth and self-esteem and affects productivity. It’s important not to fall into unhealthy habits.”
If you have young kids at home, the scenario is even more complicated.
“Wake your kids up at the same time and stick to their routine, too,” she said.
“People of all ages, generally, thrive on routine.”
Mosset knows first-hand. She’s working from home, helping clients via video and phone, while looking after her 3 1/2-year-old son and five-week-old baby.
“First of all, kids don’t understand a pandemic, so don’t scare them,” she said.
“But what they may understand is that someone who is sick may have touched the playground equipment, so you can’t use it right now. So, we’re going to do something else instead.”
That could be activity books, toys and board games at home, or outdoor follow-the-leader, eye spy or bike ride.
“It’s especially helpful if you can get outside,” she said. “Everyone benefits from fresh air and the vitamin D. Plus, if you tire your children out, they’ll be happy and you’ll be happy.”
Mosset entertained her son one afternoon this week with a simple drive. She set him up in his seat in the back with a hot chocolate and started driving. He was the navigator, telling her to turn left, right or continue straight.
Mosset knows social media is a great way to stay connected with family and friends and be inspired by stories of how people are helping each other during this crisis.
However, she urges people to ignore the doom-and-gloom posts and people spinning inflated numbers of COVID-19 cases.
“That kind of negativity can put you in a tailspin,” she said.
“Rely on the provincial health minister and real news to give you those numbers and perspective.”
Mosset said the cost of counselling sessions may be covered by your workplace’s extended health plan.