Coping during COVID-19: In for the long haul

Talk Tuesday - April 28, 2020

During this Talk Tuesday we focused on specific questions from members and went more in-depth regarding strategies to enhance psychological health, build resilience and discuss how these might need to change over time as the pandemic evolves.

Feature presenter 

Dr. Maxine Holmqvist, Undergraduate Medical Education (UGME) Coordinator, University of Manitoba

Maxine Holmqvist is an associate professor in the Department of Clinical Health Psychology at the University of Manitoba. She has served in a variety of leadership roles in medical education and is a long-standing clinical teacher in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, where she has worked with trainees in primary care and hospital settings. 

She is also a past-chair of the clinical section of the Canadian Psychological Association, and currently is working with a national team of experts building a web-based resource for evidence-based practice in psychology. 

Her research interests include the primary prevention of mental health disorders, psychological influences on health behaviour, improving health care delivery and interprofessional education and collaborative care.


Dr. Holmqvist joined us again to continue the conversation about coping. Last week Dr. Holmqvist talked with us about the range of responses to stress, some common ways they manifest, some ways to cope and reasons for hope.

In this Talk Tuesday they acknowledge that we’re in this for the long haul and addressed the three clear themes that were evident in the follow up survey sent after last week's talk: frustration in relationships, workplace anxiety and balance/self-care. 

Question and answer

What are some broad strategies to help manage frustration in relationships, workplace anxiety and balance/self-care?

  • Being aware of our own emotional state
  • Being careful not to take on responsibility for other people’s emotions
  • Trying the best we can to be non-judgemental
  • Humour
  • Warning shots/check-ins
  • Maintaining meaningful relationships
  • How to talk with kids or non-healthcare family and friends
  • Ways to change your mental state

What are some useful strategies to respond to high anxiety in patients, those who are seeking care for their anxiety and those who are seeking care for another medical problem that is complicated by COVID-19 anxiety?

  • Validate the emotion
  • Name the emotion
  • Controlled breathing exercises

How do we deal with other people’s anxiety?

  • Set boundaries
  • Offer an empathic response and reflect emotions back

How do I fill up my resilience bank account/emotional bucket?

  • Sleep, nutrition, exercise, nature
  • Designate a worry time (especially useful if waking at night)
  • Have a buffer zone between finishing your day and trying to go to sleep
  • Have a bedtime routine
  • Identify and do life affirming activities
  • Inspiration box
  • Find ways to change your mental state


Reducing Stress Through Deep Breathing

Controlled Breathing Exercise

YouTube link: