LETHBRIDGE -- Anxiety is an emotion that’s very normal to have in an abnormal situation like the current COVID-19 pandemic, says Lisa Lewis, director of counselling outreach at Lethbridge Family Service.

"The community is very anxious right now because this is something we’ve never experienced before," she said.

LFS is seeing an increase in people phoning about their services.

"We are supporting those who are already on our caseload with phone counselling, as well as phone supports for people who might need a referral to an agency," she explained.

"But we are limiting the number of times people can come in for a face-to-face counseling session."

Next week, LFS is hoping to open up some online counselling to be able to provide another service to the community during a time of need.

That’s in part because not only are they seeing an increase in individuals dealing with anxiety due to the pandemic, but counsellors also see heightened issues for people dealing with psychiatric diagnoses like PTSD or anxiety disorders.

"Those individuals will see an increase of anxiety where it might become even more unmanageable at this time," said Lewis.

"What we’re encouraging people to do is look for healthy ways to deal with this anxiety whether they have a psychiatric diagnosis or not."

And those healthy ways can include watching the news because Lewis says knowledge is power, as long as it’s balanced with other things.

"Be informed with what’s happening in the world, because that will help you decrease your anxiety, but balance that with self-care."

Lewis listed journaling, spending time with family, working out at home, cooking or baking, spiritual or religious activities or artistic activities as a few ways to help out.

But not everyone is at home dealing with the pandemic, as those working in essential services have to continue going about their day to day lives as best as they can.

Lewis says that puts the onus on their employers to be supporting them during this time.

“Not all services can shut down, especially the essential services, so it’s essential that the employers recognize that and look at how they can provide some workplace mental health supports right now,” said Lewis.