My Postpandemic Peeps
/ Author: Quentin Steen
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My Postpandemic Peeps

Are you sure you want the same people in your life when social distancing restrictions are lifted? The pandemic may be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for to cut ties with those who bring you down and surround yourself with positive, healthy people

By Quentin Steen, Representative

This week marks the beginning of a new phase in the pandemic response among a number of Canadian provinces in what is being expressed as a “slow reopening.” Province by province, Canada is beginning to loosen some of its lockdown restrictions.

The reactions to this slow reopening vary, and there are many angles and moving parts to the debate. On the one hand, some believe it’s too early to lift restrictions for fear of a resurgence of the COVID-19 virus. On the other hand, others think it’s been long enough, and while there is some concern about a resurgence, there is more significant concern around the economic and mental health impacts of not reopening.

Among some of the measures taken is the relaxing of our social distancing circles. If your city is like mine, this has been happening, unofficially, for some time now.

I wonder if this is a good idea, not only on the physical level but on a mental health level. For most of us, being socially restricted has shrunk our social circles to some extent. For some, it’s been a difficult struggle. But for others, it’s been kind of a godsend.

COVID-19 has provided us with the opportunity to take a step back, evaluate our lives, and ask some tough questions about unhealthy relationships. Questions that have given us the appropriate time and space to answer instead of ignoring them, hoping they work themselves out all on their own. Sometimes they do, and when they do, that’s great, but when they don’t, it can get ugly.

Admittedly, the times where I’ve found it easier to shed unhealthy relationships was during a household move. Physical distancing has been helpful for me—more than once in my lifetime.

Similar to moving to another city, social distancing can be the opportunity we’ve been waiting for to remove ourselves from relationships with people who are not healthy or helpful to us. I’m not referring just to those relationships with toxic personalities. I’m also referring to relationships with people who don’t bring us life, who bring us down, who don’t align with our values, beliefs, faith, or goals.

Are you sure you want the same people in your life when the restrictions are lifted?

To be clear, I’m not saying we shouldn’t continue to be there for people who need our help. Now, more than ever, we need to be there for each other.

Also, just because we have an argument or disagreement with someone does not mean we should up and discard the relationship. If we did, we’d have no relationships! We need to constructively work through our differences.

But we do need to be thoughtful about who we include within our social circles. If some relationships can’t survive social distancing, maybe that’s okay.

You may have relationships with people who only want to get together to moan about life, and who only bring you down. Now may be an excellent time to take advantage of social distancing to cut ties with them and surround yourself with positive, healthy people and spend as much time as you can with them.  

When you do, you will get your brain right with a new social circle of positive postpandemic peeps. It’s the best way to get healthy in the relational landscape of your life, and that will positively affect your brain health.

I recognize that not every relationship is without its issues and struggles. After all, we are human. But the math is simple: the more room we make for those who don’t fit with our life, the less room we have for those who do. We become what we surround ourselves with.

Now is a good time to ask yourself, is this person healthy for my brain? If not, what’s stopping me from leaving my relationship with them behind to help me move toward a better, healthier version of me?

Quentin Steen is a certified mental health first aid instructor for the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

Get your BRAIN right and your MIND will follow!

Further Reading

  1. 8 Things the Most Toxic People in Your Life Have in Common—How They Make You Feel and What You Can Do about It
  2. Toxic People: 12 Things They Do and How to Deal with Them
  3. The 7 Types of Toxic People and How to Spot Them

4 Mental Health Resources to Help You During the Pandemic

  1. Stronger Minds features videos and quick reads from mental health experts, activities to help you gain resilience, and ask-an-expert videos in response to questions.
  2. WellCan offers free well-being resources to help Canadians develop coping strategies and build resilience to help deal with uncertainty, mental health, and substance abuse concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. Wellness Together Canada: Mental Health and Substance Use Support provides free online resources, tools, apps, and connections to trained volunteers and qualified mental health professionals.
  4. CLAC is also continuing to make available to all members and their families our employment and family assistance program. If you or your loved ones are struggling, please do not hesitate to reach out for free, confidential help today.

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