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January 6, 2021 — a day that will live on in infamy:

I’m writing this article on January 7, 2021. Yesterday, I was riveted to the TV set, witnessing the insurrection and its aftermath at the US Capitol. It was deeply troubling to watch.

It got me thinking about the recent article I wrote on how the politics of division are driving people crazy and in light of yesterday’s events, I thought I’d add an update about how politics in general are having a negative impact on our overall mental health.


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Good riddance to 2020:

The past year has been brutal for everyone. We’ve seen a global pandemic; a financial crisis that rivaled the Great Depression of the 1920s; a mental health crisis brought about by poverty, loss and isolation; mounting racial strife, political polarization, and too many people dying from Covid-19.

In dark times such as these, we have a greater opportunity to recognize what really matters. It’s not accumulating more fame, influence or money. It’s not having more followers on social media or flashier possessions.

When all around us there is so much pain and suffering, we’re reminded of the value of kindness, caring and meaningful connections. We’re reminded that people matter more than possessions and living our best lives is more important than impressing others. …


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2020: Our “annus horribilis”

Everyone can agree that 2020 has been a brutal year. For many months now, we’ve had little reason for optimism. Bad news followed more bad news and we’ve felt helpless, frightened, and out of control. But thanks to science, it now looks like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

It was almost impossible to be hopeful in 2020 with people losing loved ones, businesses being shuttered, and images everywhere of massive line-ups for donations of food. And just as tragic, in 2020, loneliness and isolation became the “new normal.”

Fortunately, the scientists working so hard on developing a vaccine to Covid-19 have prevailed in record time and the roll-out has begun. We’re not out of the woods yet, but we have our first glimpse of better days ahead. …


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May you live in interesting times:

There’s an old curse that goes, “May you live in interesting times,” and looking back, I don’t think 2020 could have been any more “interesting.”

With the arrival of a global pandemic, the return of Black Lives Matter to international attention, as well as the bizarre goings-on following the US presidential elections, we’ve all been through a lot.

It’s been a year filled with loss. People have lost their jobs, their businesses, their livelihoods and their loved ones. There has been so much pain and suffering, as well as an overwhelming sense of helplessness and uncertainty. …


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The holiday season is here again and for many of us, the holidays are not just a time for celebration but for giving to others. This year, though, it seems that there will be a whole lot less of both these things. With the social isolation, pervasive feelings of loss, and the massive financial hardship associated with the pandemic, we’ve had to re-imagine the holidays this year.


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The pandemic has been devastating to small businesses:

It’s November 2020 and as the pandemic rages onward — in some parts of the world spiraling out of control — many small business owners are at their wits’ end, trying to figure out a way to salvage their livelihood. The people who work for small businesses are equally desperate, wondering from day to day if they’re going to have a job or if they do have a job, whether or not they’re going to get paid.

Here in Ontario, it’s looking like we’re heading for another lock-down, which means that things will only get worse for those business owners and their staff who work in restaurants, gyms, spas, boutique hotels and small shops. …


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We need good father figures:

After days of suspense, the results are finally in for the recent US election, with Joe Biden being declared the winner. I found it particularly interesting that both candidates happened to be men in their seventies, and that got me thinking about the differences between a good father-figure and a bad one.

In differentiating a good father-figure from a bad one I’ll start by explaining what makes a bad father-figure. And it should be noted that these characteristics apply to father-figures in politics, in business and in families. …


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Covid restrictions lead to addictions:

Reports have been coming out lately about the rising rates of addiction since the Covid-19 pandemic began, and it’s no surprise. As people are struggling with experiences of uncertainty and loss and feeling more and more out of control in their lives, it’s understandable that they’re turning to comfort food, alcohol and drugs in order to cope.

It’s especially difficult these days because along with the fear of becoming ill, the fear of our loved ones becoming ill, the financial strain, the job stress and the grief over what — and who — we’ve lost, we’re more lonely and isolated than ever. …


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Political polarization is bad for our mental health:

Last year, Psychology Today published an article about mental health and politics. The article, by Susan McQuillan, discussed the way that divisive politics are taking a toll on the mental health of Americans.

The Psychology Today article discussed a study done by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. It turns out that the politics of division is so destructive that it has cost many Americans their friendships, created conflicts within families and in the workplace, and filled Americans with “anger, frustration,…guilt and regret.”

In fact, more than 25 percent of the survey respondents agreed that politics caused them stress and depression, while more than 15 percent of respondents said that politics made them lose sleep and created conflict in their extended families. …


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When the holiday season meets the second wave of Covid-19:

Canadian Thanksgiving is just around the corner and American Thanksgiving isn’t that far off, either. It’s unfortunate that just as the holiday season is upon us, the pandemic has entered a second wave. Just as we were starting to relax and the restrictions were easing off, it looks like they’re going to be tightening up again.

Some people are taking the public health guidelines very seriously and others appear to be ignoring them. This makes it awkward when you’re negotiating your personal relationships.

If you’re worried about catching Covid or concerned about possibly spreading it to a vulnerable loved one, the holiday season brings along even greater complications. …

About

Marcia Sirota

Writer, speaker, MD, and author of the Short & Sweet Guides to Life book series

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