BRANTFORD – Ontario has extended the State of Emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the province until June 9th. Health officials continue to encourage residents to remain house-bound, some isolated from loved ones and support systems.
Certified Yoga Therapist and Psychologist, Erin Byron explains it’s natural for many people to struggle with their mental health as they near week twelve of isolation. Also, Byron says in the current environment of uncertainty and significant change, it’s also normal for past traumas to surface and have their effect.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a clinical diagnosis, however, Byron explains, as human beings, we may all experience some level of the symptoms associated with PTSD sometimes in life. These may include nightmares, poor self-esteem, and/or an overly stressed nervous system.
Byron admits the body can often respond to stress in a manner not typical to usual circumstances, and therefore heighten anxiety further. “We’re then at risk of this classic negative spiral,” Byron explains. “We don’t act like ourselves and then we get ashamed for not acting like ourselves which makes us even more frazzled or sensitive and if we don’t interrupt that spiral somehow, we can actually be in a lot of trouble.”
For anyone feeling as though they are in desperate circumstances, Byron urges to call a crisis line, any crisis line. “Don’t worry about if it’s the right crisis line for your situation or not,” she says. “If it is not, they will help you get the help that is relevant.”
For those recognizing they’re in a negative spiral, Byron recommends maintaining and increasing social connections as one of the best ways to break into that spiral, providing suggestions as ‘Zoom dinner parties’ or ‘Zoom coffee or tea’ after work. Most importantly, she says self-care is most essential.
“When we remember that so much of our stress is neurobiological and physiological then we don’t need to get so down on ourselves for being biological organisms,” Byron says. ” When we can apply self-compassion, radical self-acceptance, gentleness, then there’s a lot more space for us to take a break, take a breath and come back to a situation where we’re more like the person we know we are in our hearts.”