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Expert reminding you to prioritize mental health ahead of winter

Last Updated Nov 12, 2020 at 6:33 am MST

FILE: A couple holds hands as they walk through snowfall in Vancouver (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A mental health expert said those who have had a difficult time coping with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could be facing another challenge to their mental health as gloomier months settle in.

Dr. Steven Taylor is with the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and said if you’ve had mental health struggles, it’s a good time to be pro-active and prepare for the months ahead.

“If you’ve had trouble during the latest lockdown, you need to take a look at that and consider how you might make things easier the next time around,” he says.

While the pandemic has shown people are adaptive, resilient and able to cope with stressors, Taylor says people who have had pre-existing emotional problems or have had stresses during the pandemic might find tensions mounting again.

Taylor recommends inquiring about mental health services or talking to family or friends to mitigate worsening emotional problems.

RELATED: Few Canadians accessing online mental health support: UBC

And while Christmas may look a little different this year, Taylor said you need to find creative ways to connect with loved ones.

“I’m hopeful that we are able to get out and socialize in a socially distant fashion. But that depends on what we do right now. If we’re not socially distancing now, we could be back in lockdown. Which would not make for a very fun Christmas at all.”

In the worst-case scenario, if the province is locked down again, Taylor said you might want to implement some stress management strategies as soon as possible.

In addition to speaking to a mental health professional, you can do simple things like getting more sleep and trying to keep a proper diet.

Taylor adds, while the past few months have been challenging, there is a silver lining.

“About 45 per cent of people say ‘yeah, I’ve got a better appreciation for friends and family, a better appreciation to my community, I’ve grown to cherish little things in life I’ve become more resilient to stress and deepening spirituality,’” he said.

“So maybe this is a time of the year to reflect on what’s happened in the past year? And ask yourself whether any good things or silver linings have come out of this? Have you grown as human beings?”