February 8, 2021
Spotlight: Dr. Stephanie Bot, Humour and Lockdown Fever
In this Q+A Spotlight we chat with psychologist Dr. Stephanie Bot (C. Psych., Psychoanalyst), who is the president of Workright, an organization based at Yonge + St. Clair that provides online mental health, communication, relationship and interpersonal skills courses for businesses and individuals.
With the ongoing COVID lockdowns and the significant changes it represents to both individuals and businesses, the Yonge + St. Clair BIA explores how Workright is taking a traditionally in-person professional service to a digital platform.
Yonge + St. Clair BIA: It’s 2021. The COVID lockdown is still the everyday norm. What’s your team looking to bring to folks using the Workright online platform and service?
Dr. Stephanie Bot: Well let’s start with a bit of background – Last weekend a patient reached out because he was in crisis. There was no specific causal event. He just didn’t feel he could cope anymore with being “locked-up”. For many people this lockdown may keep them physically safe but mentally their resilience, tolerance and mood are on the decline while their anxiety, loneliness and restlessness are on the rise. People try to reassure each other that the vaccine creates a light for the future but as numbers of cases remain high, the vaccine somewhat unavailable and the bleakness of winter prevails, this lockdown is taking its toll on mental health.
It’s a tough time for many. So as far as this platform goes and our team’s role – we empathize, and we offer the tools and expertise to instill a sense of hope that this too shall pass.
Y+SC: Can you tell us more about the challenges you help people face?
Dr. B: Well, back to the patient who reached out in crisis. He shared something that deeply saddened me. Since COVID restrictions started in March 2020 when he switched from working in a vibrant midtown office space with hundreds of employees to doing work alone in a virtual world from his one bedroom condo, not one person in his workplace has checked in with him or asked how he’s doing.
We need to do better than this. Working in the land of Zoom requires greater effort to check-in, to let people know they’re cared about and that they matter. The incredible thing about doing this is it will actually help us feel better about ourselves. We are part of a global community that is suffering but we need to think local, our families, our friends, our workmates…check in with them. Ask how they’re managing. Share lockdown stories. Find humour we can all relate to in these groundhog days. Connection, even brief, can make a huge difference. Don’t underestimate your potential to positively impact someone else’s life and in turn elevate your own.
Y+SC: Would you have any simple personal advice for people who looking to lighten the mood in their everyday?
Dr. B: Well it’s not all bleak. If I can share a personal strategy that might sound a bit crazy: in between sessions these days, I’ll put on bold inspiring music like James Brown’s “Get on off of that thing and dance ‘til you feel better” and I’m dancing and singing and being as silly as I want for 5 to 10 minutes. Letting go in this way completely transforms my energy and state of mind. And I’m recommending this to all my patients. Whether your dance party is solo or with people you live with, I promise it will shake you out of your Lockdown Funk and help you feel alive and free again. My prescription is to do this at least once a day and if you find yourself feeling low, just try it…it can’t hurt.
Y+SC: So would you say a sense of humour with the right approach is key?
Dr. B: That’s what we’re looking to accomplish here.
Ask Dr. B.
We’ve asked Dr. Bot to share some insight into some of the approaches that she and the Workright team have offered to patients and clients during the lockdown.
Dr. B: Here’s one scenario: “My boyfriend and I just started living together in a tiny condo when COVID hit. It’s been really hard. We both have to work from home and are never apart. We’re arguing more, getting on each other’s nerves and are not finding each other attractive lately. What should I do?”
Well, it’s not healthy for a relationship when people are together all day every day in close quarters. Here are 5 suggestions to help:
Define individual time and space. We all need alone time. When your partner goes for a walk or grocery shopping, plan for an hour or two of personal time to use the space and time to do something for you (not cleaning or laundry). Do things that bring you happiness, such as reading, meditating, painting…and create this same opportunity for your partner.
Schedule relationship time. Plan regular dinner dates. Prepare a special meal together or create a “date night” meal for your partner to treat them. Dress up, light the candles, dance.
Do something for others. We feel better when we help others. Consider preparing a larger portion of your meal once a week and dropping it off for a person living alone. Or purchasing extra food when you shop and providing it to a local food bank. Do this with your partner if possible to create a shared experience.
Be mindful of your partner’s needs. It’s hard to live in close quarters 24/7 with anyone. Your partner is under stress too. Err on side of giving each other the benefit of the doubt. Be aware of what you do that could be bothering your partner. This is not a time to be critical. Lockdown has placed a tall order on patience and tolerance but those are virtues we need to expand within ourselves in this crisis.
Have fun. Couples need to let off steam. Do something you enjoy that does not include watching a screen. Play a board game. Have a dance party together. Throw caution to the wind and get your sillies out. If you don’t have a willing partner dance around by yourself.
Dr. B: Remember, in the words a Victor Frankl, “An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is a normal reaction.” This will end. In the meantime, remember everyone is under high stress and struggling to put their best selves forward as parents, as partners, and as individuals. Focus on being kind and thoughtful, to ourselves and those in our circle.
Y+SC: Where can people access your platform or get in touch?
Dr. B: You can find Workright’s courses at training.workright.ca. We currently have a few online COVID care kits:
And check out Workright’s online COVID Care Kit of 12 courses. Enter Branch Code: workright https://training.workright.ca/learn/public/learning_plan/view/61/covid-care-kit-1-month-access