Clinical counsellor Yvonne Stewart (left) at the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Community Services reception desk. Call 604-467-6911 to connect with the centre’s many services.

3 steps you can take to better manage life’s big challenges

You can’t change the pandemic, but you can change how you cope

How are you coping with the global pandemic?

In this time of increased stress, great change, and big unknowns, is there anything families can do to cope better?

“Strategies will be different for everybody,” says Yvonne Stewart, a clinical counsellor at Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Community Services, but some basic principles can help you and your family navigate these challenging times.

  • Acknowledge how you feel: “There are two things it’s important to acknowledge: we can’t make COVID-19 go away, and we can’t actually change our feelings about it,” Stewart says. Everyone’s reaction is different — some are feeling anxious, others are feeling anger — but no matter your feelings it’s useful to face them. “It’s important to acknowledge that this is our life, and these are our feelings — not to try to bypass that.”
  • Choose what to do with your feelings: “We can’t choose how we feel. We can only choose what to do with our feelings, listen to them and understand what they’re showing us,” Stewart says. Our emotions can rule over us, but they can also help indicate our values. Listening to your emotions can teach you about yourself.
  • Take action: What values has the pandemic put under threat? Maybe you’re afraid of catching the virus, you’re worried you’ll lose your job, or you’re frustrated because you can’t visit loved-ones or take part in your regular activities. “We’re all being questioned by the pandemic in some way — what is our answer going to be? Ignoring it is not typically helpful,” Stewart says. “We feel stress when we feel immobilized. So how can we find a way of moving?” If you’re feeling disconnected from family, can you set up a Zoom call? If you’re worried about your job, can you strengthen your skills with extra training to make yourself more employable? “Take some action that actually addresses the issue.”

Connect with Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Community Services

One way to take action is to call the Community Services main line at 604-467-6911, where reception will help you navigate the centre’s many services. If it’s counselling-related, you may be connected to a clinical counsellor like Stewart who can work with you one-on-one virtually or in-person. Services are free for those who qualify, and affordable counselling is offered for half the average rate to anyone living in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

Community Services also hosts groups and activities for people facing similar mental health challenges, as well as family strengthening programs, senior services, and youth support. These services have adjusted to new platforms to accommodate physical distancing, and have re-launched this summer. Find more information at comservice.bc.ca.

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