Access to nature is one of the factors that can help Islanders deal with the stress of a global pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)

Access to nature is one of the factors that can help Islanders deal with the stress of a global pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)

‘Island time’ lifestyle might give locals an advantage during COVID-19

How self isolation is handled differently by Vancouver Islanders

During non-pandemic times Vancouver Islanders are known for their breezy, laissez-faire attitudes – sometimes to the point of annoyance for Mainlanders. But hey, that’s what happens when there’s an ocean breeze around every corner.

The colloquial “Island Time” means life goes at a slower pace… so what does this mean during a global pandemic, when everything has slowed down everywhere?

According to University of Victoria neuroscientist Olav Krigolson, it may actually give Islanders an advantage.

“If we have a slower paced life and we’re less hectic and stressed, we’re starting from a better place,” Krigolson said. “You’d be able to deal with stress in a better way.”

Krigolson has studied social isolation to the extreme, analyzing excursions to Antarctica and participating in NASA space simulations in Mars-mimicking habitats in Hawaii.

ALSO READ: Participants from UVic head out for NASA-sponsored Mars simulation

“Isolation tends to have a negative impact on brain function. You see people get fatigued, they make poor decisions and they make more mistakes,” he said. “But it all seems to make sense that our pace of life here contributes to a better pre-disposition to deal with this.”

READ MORE: COVID-19– Managing your mental health from isolation

Other factors include the general high quality of life on the Island, an average demographic of healthier, more active people, socio-economic circumstances and access to nature – even if it’s only from your balcony.

“It’s comparable to the question ‘is Zoom the same as face to face?’ Well, is it better than nothing, yes, but it’s always better to be out there in it.”

While no studies have been conducted to measure how much of a difference this might make, there’s perhaps at least a bit of reassurance that Islanders could have a leg up as further isolation measures continue.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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