The Pandemic “Normal”

Friday, May 1, 2020
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The Pandemic “Normal”

By Shirley Porter, M.Ed., RP, RSW

Counsellor, Fanshawe College

Since the days when the College moved to online classes and services, I have noticed a common theme in my discussions with clients, coworkers, friends and family. Many people are having difficulties with sleep, motivation and concentration. As a result, they tend to be very self-critical, telling themselves they “should” be more productive. 

I’ve been spending a lot of time in my online and phone counselling sessions with students, reminding them of the bigger picture. We are in an unprecedented situation. Our lives, as we knew and expected them to be, were turned upside down. Change, whether viewed as positive or negative, results in stress on the mind and body. Add to that the continued fears and uncertainty that accompany the pandemic and resultant social isolation and we end up with a continual, often subconscious, drain on our energy.   It’s like when you have a bunch of apps running in the background on your phone that are draining the battery power. Only in this case, it’s the underlying stresses that are an ongoing part of our pandemic daily life, that are draining our physical, emotional and cognitive energies. This seems to be the pandemic “normal”. In this unprecedented situation, we will not have the energy that was available to us before the pandemic, and thus expecting ourselves to operate at the level of productivity we were capable of prior to all of the pandemic-related changes is not only unrealistic, it is also unhelpful as it adds an unnecessary burden of guilt.

During this time of change, compassion is a choice that can reduce stress and increase resilience. Be kind to yourself and others. Recognize that we are doing our best in an unusual and intense situation.   Instead of asking, “What’s wrong with me?  Why can’t I get everything done?” try “What do I need in this moment to help me move to forward in a healthy way?”

I also wanted to add a reminder, for students who are taking courses during the summer semester, that counselling services continue to be available to you. If you would like to schedule a confidential appointment with a counsellor, please call 519-452-4282. Professional counsellors continue to be available for online and phone appointments. Please don’t hesitate to call if you can use some extra support. 

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