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UBC study to look at how people cope with coronavirus outbreak


If you’re feeling out of sorts these days, you’re not alone.

Nancy Sin is a health psychologist at the University of British Columbia, so she understands a lot about what many of us are feeling in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Stressed, anxious, panicked — there is so much to adjust to,” Sin told Global News. “We are experiencing a lot of disruptions to our daily life, having to change up our work or arrange for child care and being at home with kids.”

Not to mention worries about our health and that of our loved ones. But Sin said she hopes to use this time in our history to learn even more, with an online survey.

“We are planning to survey people every week for as long as the outbreak lasts so we’re trying to track changes in emotions.”

Sin and fellow health psychologist Anita DeLongis are looking for fresh insight into how people cope during a pandemic, such as why some people take heed of health recommendations and wash their hands, while others do not.

Anyone around the world is encouraged to take part. Participants in Canada and the U.S. can also sign up to complete a daily diary — brief daily surveys for one week about their feelings, health, and activities.

In the meantime, what can we do to better cope with COVID-19 anxiety?

“One of the best ways to cope with stress is to focus energy towards what you can do and especially how you can help other people,” Sin said.

Being helpful and thoughtful has been clinically shown to make you feel better. Ask people who can’t leave home if you can help with groceries, or relieve loneliness for those in isolation simply by picking up the phone.

“Try to reach out to other people so that you can feel like you still have that connection,” Sin said, “because we don’t have to see people face to face to have a bond with them.”

She suggested finding moments of joy, like the people in Italy, stuck at home under lockdown, singing to each other from their balconies.

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