This week, we entered Phase 2 of BC’s pandemic response, which will see some things opening up and our personal bubbles able to expand to up to 60% of our pre-pandemic social interactions. The Provincial State of Emergency remains in place, the border with the US remains closed to non-essential travel, COVID-19 is still with us. Anticipation and apprehension in equal measures.
43 years ago, on May 25, 1977, the first Star Wars movie was released. I went to see it with a group of 30-something Brits and Aussies who were at summer school at UBC. When Luke blew up the Death Star the whole cinema gave him a standing ovation. It was a sober (cinemas were dry back then) and spontaneous collective response.
Community, as they say in the mental health world, is corrective. That is, it’s therapeutic and nourishing to share collective experiences; seeing our own emotions reflected and amplified in other people’s responses lifts us up. How do we cultivate community these days, when it seems dancing together to live music, cheering loudly for our favourite sports team, or jumping to our feet in spontaneous standing ovation in a theatre is unlikely for some time yet to come?
Anxiety and stress, to varying degrees, have also been a common experience over these past months. Those kinds of feelings can cause us to retreat, withdraw and match our physical isolation with psychological isolation. But hearing our less-than-joyful experiences reflected and validated in others can be a powerful measure to remind us we’re not as alone as we might feel.
Community is important to me. I want to encourage us all to cultivate community however we can right now, and open ourselves to experiencing it. We don’t have to look far to find these opportunities – local libraries are offering contactless pick-ups; people are spontaneously dropping wine or baking to neighbours like ninjas or secret Santas; dance, fitness, yoga and meditation classes are being offered online; volunteer firefighters are doing birthday celebration drive-bys. One local initiative has seen the compilation of a host of free mental health resources in the https://www.seatoskyhealingproject.com/. Once you start looking for ways to feel supported, for proof that community is like the Force and strong in this region, you start to see it everywhere.
A sense of uncertainty is the norm for many of us, I suspect, right now, as we shift from phase 1 to phase 2, and remain alert to the threat of a virus we can’t see and to a risk we can’t quantify, and we’ll be navigating with this limited vision a while. Let’s orient back to community and compassion, whenever we’re unsure. If we let that be our north star, I don’t think we can go wrong.
If you are in crisis, or if you know of a person in crisis, please call a crisis line:
- Toll free: 1-866-661-3311 or 1-800-784-2433
- Youth/Adult or TTY: 1-866-872-0113
- Senior’s Distress: 604-872-1234
If there is a risk to life and safety, please call 9-1-1.
If you have access to counselling through extended health benefits, please access these, as many counsellors in the local area are consulting by telephone service at this time due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, but are still available.
Sea to Sky Healing Project (developed in light of COVID-19; provides mental health resources)
Mental Health Services in Squamish, through Vancouver Coastal Health
Chair, Squamish-Lillooet Regional District