Mental health (COVID-19)
Be mindful of your mental health and the mental health of others
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our lives in many ways. You may now be working from home, taking on a new role, or you may be off work for an indefinite amount of time. These, in addition to your other responsibilities, may be causing stress, anxiety, confusion and worry. It is normal to feel this way. The following are tips to support your mental health and the mental health of others during these uncertain times.
Keep yourself informed
Keep yourself informed by seeking information and practical guidelines about COVID-19 at specific times of the day from reputable and trusted sources like Public Health Sudbury & Districts, government organizations, and the World Health Organization.
Recognize and focus on what is in your control
We cannot control the fact that we are in a pandemic, but there are many things we can focus on that are in our control. This includes caring for our body and mind, connecting with others, practicing COVID-safe behaviors and getting the COVID vaccine when available to us.
Maintain a routine
Try to keep or establish a regular daily schedule. A routine can help us feel a sense of control. Wake up and go to bed at the same time. Have healthy meals and snacks at the same time. Make time for stretching, exercising, and things you enjoy.
Be kind to yourself
Life during a pandemic can be challenging. Give yourself a break, you are doing the best you can. For many of us when we are faced with difficulties or failures our negative inner voice can make us feel worse. Treat yourself like we would a close friend, with kindness and support. This is important for our emotional resilience. Try listening to guided self-compassion (eMentalHealth.ca) practices for adults (Centre for Mindful Self-Compassion) and for teens (Centre for Mindful Self-Compassion).
Take care of your body
- Eat healthy at regular times.
- Incorporate regular physical activity into your day. Check out a virtual exercise class, get outside for a walk, or play a sport with members of your household.
- Make sleep a priority.
- Get outside for fresh air, and remember to be sun safe. Getting outside in green spaces has been shown to improve both physical and psychological well-being. Natural light also helps to regulate your sleep cycle.
Make time for yourself and for things you enjoy
Distractions can help give your brain a break from thinking about things that worry you. Doing something positive is a healthy coping strategy. Here are a few suggestions:
- Play games or participate in other activities with the family. Try a new board game with members of your household or try an online game with friends.
- Reconnect with a hobby or learn something new. There are a number of free online tutorials.
- Try gardening. Check out online tutorials for small herb gardens, easy to grow vegetables or flowers.
- Listening to music and dancing can have therapeutic effects. Put your favourite album on in the background, dance around your house, or try a virtual dance class.
Focus on the good
Looking for positivity, joy and being grateful is good for your mental health. Setting an intention to look for the good will help you notice the little moments of joy, like someone smiling at you, a sunrise, a thank you. What are the good things about working from home? Is there less traffic on your way to work? Did you rediscover a passion? Even when we have a bad day there’s always something positive to notice. (health.sunnybrook.ca).
Maintain your social networks and find new and innovative ways to connect with your family and friends. Call your family and friends, incorporate a game into your video chat, watch a movie together virtually, keep your family updated through email and regular mail. If connecting in person, remember to be COVID-safe and follow the top-10-COVID-rules to live by. Try to connect with people who make you feel good about yourself and are a positive influence.
Practise ways to calm and relax your body and your mind
- Think about coping strategies that have worked for you in the past and set time aside to practise them.
- Our bodies are always breathing. When we are stressed and anxious, we often have quick, shallow breaths. Try deep slow breathing exercises (eMentalHealth.ca), this helps to activate the body’s natural calming response.
- Practise progressive muscle relaxation (Anxiety Canada). Tense and relax each muscle group from your feet to your face, gradually working up the body. This helps to reduce muscle tension and stress.
- Try mindfulness. Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment with openness and curiosity (Mindful Schools). This practice has many benefits, including reducing stress and building resilience. Ten Percent Happier is offering free guided meditations. Give it a try!
- Practise grounding strategies (eMentalHealth.ca) or sensory strategies (eMentalHealth.ca). These strategies engage some or all our fives senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste). This helps your brain refocus on the present and makes you feel calmer.
Make a coping and safety plan
You may find it hard to think clearly when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Writing down a coping plan and safety plan (ementalhealth.ca) when you are calm helps you and the people who care about you be prepared to support you in times of stress. This plan can include what you can do to stay well, knowing what makes you stressed, trying new and old ways to cope, including identifying your supports.
Avoid or monitor your substance use
Some people may choose to use substances like tobacco, cannabis, alcohol, or vaping to cope with stress and challenges. In the long run using substances may make those stressful feelings worse or increase the risk of addiction.
The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction offers tips to monitor your use if you choose to use substances. Follow Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines and Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines to reduce your risks.
Kindness is a character strength. You can show kindness in many ways, including sharing your time and talents to help those in need. Knowing and sharing your strengths is good for your mental health and well-being. Other ideas include picking up groceries for a friend or family member, checking in on your older neighbours or family, volunteering or donating to a local charity.
Reach out for help
If your emotions are overwhelming, persistent and/or interfering with your daily life, you are not alone. Please seek support by talking to someone you trust or seeking professional support. See our list of mental health resources.
Visit the Parents and Guardians (COVID-19) page for tips that the World Health Organization recommends.
This item was last modified on August 17, 2021