Most people will be “exuberant” about entering post-pandemic life, according to Steven Taylor, the author The Psychology of Pandemics: Preparing for the Next Global Outbreak of Infectious Disease.

For many the pandemic has been a time of stress and isolation, and for some, worse — trauma and distress, particularly if they had COVID-19 or lost someone to it.

Taylor estimates approximately 20 per cent of Canadians will need some form of clinical help for mental health issues post-pandemic. He characterized that as a ‘massive’ increase. (Submitted by Steven Taylor)

When some semblance of normal life returns, most people will bounce back pretty quickly, said Taylor. But there’s a significant minority who will feel the psychological impact of the pandemic long after restrictions are lifted. 

As Canada’s third wave of COVID-19 slowly recedes and vaccination rates increase, there is a growing confidence that, over the next few months, pandemic restrictions will start to be lifted. In Quebec this week, for example, a timeline was unveiled for the gradual opening up of society.

“We’re adaptable, human beings … we’re like cockroaches,” Taylor, a professor and clinical psychologist in the psychiatry department at UBC, told Dr. Brian Goldman, host of The Dose and White Coat, Black Art.

“We’ve survived countless pandemics. There have been about 20 pandemics in the past 200 years and we’ve survived them all. So most people will bounce back.”

Most of us will adapt quickly to life post-pandemic and the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, says Taylor, ‘just like people rapidly adapted to wearing masks.’ (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Some anxiety is normal

Initially, Taylor expects to see a range of reactions, from exuberance and “hypersociability” to anxiety as people cautiously — or not-so-cautiously — resume regular life.

Taylor said it’s normal to feel some trepidation about returning to our normal routines and increased social interaction. After all, we’ve been told that proximity to others comes with risk for more than a year.

He expects many people will go through an adjustment period when they feel anxious about things like sitting in a restaurant or going to a big sporting event.

His advice? Go at your own pace.



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