The current context of the pandemic brings its share of stress and uncertainty. Just going to the grocery store or bumping into people on the street can create fear or discomfort within us. We are thus going through a troubled period where we can easily accumulate tension and stress and be affected by it.

Althought social distancing and wearing a mask have no doubt made it possible to better contain the spread of the virus, the fact remains that these measures tend to lead to self-isolation, and for some, to an undesirable isolation which further weakens their psychological state. It is therfore possible that this may leave long-term consequences, especially for the most vulnerable people (the elderly or those with chronic diseases), but also for everyone else.

There are several therapeutic approaches that can help to better cope with this overwhelming anxiety and that emphasize a better balance within oneself. Among those are psychology, acupuncture, osteopathy, naturopathy, massage therapy, chiropractic and breathing-meditation techniques (yoga, Qi Gong etc.). These approaches can help us become aware that the physical body can be affected when stress builds up in our daily life.

And this is mainly where the discourse of the authorities falls short; for instead of informing and promoting better stress management, fear is used and serves as an argument to dictate behavior. It is one thing to say, "Don't do this!" or "Do this!" but it is another to educate people about what is healthy for them and offer advice aimed at improving their health.

The urgency of the response to the health crisis was well founded as were the preventive measures taken, except that, keeping people in fear without giving them all the necessary information contributes to a form of ignorance which, in the end, is harmful to the well-being of the population. The current danger is that the fear that is conveyed infantilizes people and makes them less autonomous with respect to their health.

It is therefore possible that anxiety and depressive symptoms will gain ground in the coming months, especially since the economy has also been hit hard and many are experiencing financial insecurity. There now exists a wonderful opportunity to promote different therapeutic approaches that would best relieve the stress and discomfort that stem from these various hardships. But will the public authorities be able to catch the ball on the fly? Will the coming vaccines end up being the only solution they have to offer the population as a remedy to the collective gloom?

Martin Moisan, M.D.
Kanesatake Health Center
12, Joseph Swan
Kanesatake (Québec)

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