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Coping with anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic

Local clinicial psychologist created a workbook to help people deal with pandemic anxiety
Dr. Sachi Nagasawa holds up her workbook. Photo submitted.

Like thousands of Canadians, Dr. Sachi Nagasawa had her family's vacation plans stalled due to the COVID-19 crisis. 

"I followed the news related to the current pandemic and experienced a tidal wave of emotions such as fear, sadness, and anger," admitted Dr. Nagasawa, a clinical psychologist at Bay Psychology in North Bay. 

Despite the sense of helplessness that she and many of us felt, Nagasawa decided to put her expertise to good use in these trying times by creating a workbook to help those struggling with anxiety.  

She says she got her inspiration through the "Caremonger" movement along with the fellowship she has seen in her field. 

"Psychologists across Ontario were supporting one another so much through resource sharing," she said. 

"I noticed that while there were many excellent one page resources and websites, there was nothing substantive and all the varied resources could be overwhelming for an individual. 

"I decided that I did not want to inundate my clients with all these resources but instead I wanted to create a useful workbook that they could work through to learn important skills necessary for coping. The workbook was a way for me to give back but also a means to channel my nervous energy into something meaningful."

Through this crisis, Dr. Nagasawa has learned that anxiety is a natural response.  

"There are many unknowns that sparks a primal fear response as naturally, we feel safe when our environments are stable and predictable," she said.  

Instead, she says it is essential to focus on what you can control such as engaging in healthy coping strategies, such as eating well-balanced meals, getting enough sleep, being physically active and maybe most importantly maintaining contact with friends and family virtually. 

"Radically accept that we cannot change the current situation," she continues. 

"Practice self-compassion by recognizing this shared moment of collective pain and treating ourselves with support and encouragement rather than harshness and self-criticism." 

So far, the workbook is getting a lot of attention. 

She says the 35-page workbook has been downloaded more than 1,000 times and is being used by numerous psychologists around the province. 

"I am pretty moved by hearing about the random acts of kindness people are engaged in response to the workbook," said Nagasawa.  

"I requested that in lieu of payment, people who use the book to engage in one random act of kindness." 

To download a copy go to the Bay Psychology website HERE

Chris Dawson

About the Author: Chris Dawson

Chris Dawson has been with since 2004. He has provided up-to-the-minute sports coverage and has become a key member of the BayToday news team.
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