A survey is offering some insight into how Saskatchewan people are feeling after the holiday season.
Insightrix Research has been tracking how Saskatchewan residents have handled COVID-19 since March 2020. A survey conducted in early January suggests people's mental health is improving, but stress levels from the pandemic remain high.
"Stress is physically and psychologically tiring for our bodies and it means that we're able to do less than we normally would be able to do. We might become more overwhelmed than usual," Cara Taylor, a mental health therapist and educator in Saskatoon, told Saskatoon Morning.
"My hope for people is they can have compassion for themselves and understanding that it's OK if they're struggling during this time."
The Insightrix Research survey found two-thirds of respondents felt Christmas was worse than usual.
The amount of people saying they were somewhat or very sad has remained steady at about 13 per cent throughout the pandemic. Taylor said this can show that those who are struggling continue to struggle.
"Those of us that are coping are probably continuing to cope, while those of us who are finding it difficult can find it hard to climb out of that."
However, 60 per cent said they were somewhat or very happy, a small increase than before Christmas. Taylor said this could be because 2021 marks a new year.
"It's the sense of there's newness coming," she said. "The sense of hope and the sense of expectation."
Whatever stress you're experiencing before the pandemic, now there's more added on top of it. - Cara Taylor
At the same time, 74 per cent of respondents still say the pandemic is stressful. Taylor said stress can be like walking through water. It's easy when there's only a few inches, but if the water rises a few feet, it becomes difficult.
"COVID has added like inches, maybe even like a foot or more of water to everybody," she said. "Whatever stress you're experiencing before the pandemic, now there's more added on top of it."
What was once manageable can become overwhelming during the pandemic, she said.
Insightrix Research said findings are from the survey are considered accurate to plus or minus five percentage points, 19 times out of 20 and that mental health is self-reported by respondents.
Regardless of the survey, Taylor said it's important to keep an eye out for people around you and see how they're doing.
"One of the most profound impacts affecting our mental health is social connection," she said. "So COVID has really affected our mental health in terms of us feeling more isolated and more disconnected."
Taylor suggests fostering connections in new ways to protect and help those struggling.
Survey shows 8 out of 10 respondents followed pandemic restrictions
When it comes to people's behaviour over the holidays, seven in 10 Saskatchewan survey respondents said they intended to follow the restrictions. After the holidays, eight in 10 said they actually did.
However, the younger a person was, the more likely they were to admit to bypassing the restrictions.
"I think that's a sense of psychological invulnerability," Taylor said. "So I think that some of that might have to do with perceptions of vulnerability physically of the virus."