Our Hospital, Our StoriesEasing anxieties around lifting restrictions: mental health advice from Access 24/7Posted on: Aug 30, 2021
While many have been excited about the lifting of certain restrictions, anxiety can follow close behind. The Royal Alex Hospital Foundation would like to remind everyone that the Access 24/7 service centre exists to assist with mental health concerns.
After so many months of pandemic-induced lockdowns, many people were elated by the prospect of rejoining our friends and family in-person, and returning to something closer to “normal.”
However, there is another side of the coin in that this sentiment may not be met with full enthusiasm by all. Over the last few weeks, many people have been experiencing some anxiety over Alberta's recent lifting of the restrictions.
Several have expressed concerns about being in large groups again after such lengthy periods of isolation, a lack of preparedness from a seemingly sudden reopening, self-consciousness around weight gain, the loss of social skills, general unease around increased social interactions, and more.
Please know that these feelings are all very much valid.
The Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation would also like to remind the community that there exists a specific centre to assist with these topics—the Addiction and Mental Health Access 24/7 service centre.
Access 24/7 is an AHS Addictions and Mental Health program with a team of professionals who provide compassionate support, intervention, and connection to treatment services. Simply call (780) 424-2424.
Tanya Anderson (M.Ed. R.Psych) is a Clinical Supervisor with Access 24/7 who was kind enough to share her perspective around the ‘higher than typical’ amount of change and unknown stemming from the pandemic:
“Each of us has been affected in different and unique ways. It is important to remember that each person’s experience has validity and we don’t all have to feel and behave the same ways in the face of these changes.”
There is a scientific standpoint as well.
“When there is as much change as we have all experienced, it makes it difficult for our brains to adapt. The unknown can be stressful and may induce anxiety because there is no way to anticipate and plan with confidence,” she said.
In essence, our brains like routine and knowing what to expect, and when that is put to the test, it demands more energy and focus—which increases fatigue and stress.
And, for what it’s worth, this is perfectly natural.
“It is natural for us humans to evaluate and focus on potential negative outcomes and concerns. The challenge,” she said, “is to choose to look for the hope and possibility for the future.”
Pointing out that many people will experience at least some anxiety, worry, or fear during the phases of reopening, Tanya had some additional advice to share.
“In a time when there are many things we cannot control, it can be helpful to focus on what we can control.”
Tanya described learning to be purposeful in how we choose to think, which in turn impacts our emotional experience. “When we feel more in control of our thoughts and feelings, then we can choose what we want to do that will be helpful to each situation.”
Of course, focusing on wellness basics may also help. These may include eating well, getting enough sleep, physical activity, completing daily tasks, connecting with others, and setting goals.
And, importantly, there are always kind, helpful people ready to lend a hand (or an ear).
When the stress and anxiety starts to impact your mental wellness and ability to function, this is the time to consider seeking out professional support.
If you or someone you know is in need of mental health support services, please do not hesitate to call (780) 424-2424 or walk in to Anderson Hall at 10959 102 St NW, any day of the week, 24/7.
Access 24/7 is committed to helping everyone who reaches out, triaging based on urgency and utilizing a collaborative team approach, and will respond to calls and requests in a timely manner.
Addiction and Mental Health Access 24/7 is made possible by the generosity of donors to the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation and the Mental Health Foundation. Please visit either website to share your appreciation or make a gift.