Uncertainty and fear of the unknown can be scary. Social distancing and self-isolation due to COVID-19 can affect our mental and physical health. We’ve compiled some suggestions to ease the anxiety, increase your wellbeing, and take care of yourself and others as the stay-at-home orders have been extended.
Connect with family, friends, and your support network
This may be the most important thing we can do for ourselves and our loved ones. It can be as simple—and profound—as making eye contact or speaking with a kind, gentle voice. Just because we cannot physically interact with one another doesn’t mean the connections should be swept aside.
Because our routines have been upset, virtually sharing moments in our day that we used to share with others can be soothing. Laugh and share positive, life-affirming videos. Consider having a virtual coffee date or making your dinner and sitting down to eat with a friend using one of the many virtual meeting technologies, like Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime. Talk to elders who may have experienced something like this in their lives and could share stories about how humans are resilient, and what they did to help get them through.
Breathe, eat well, exercise, sleep
Consider keeping a regular routine as it is easy to lose track of time, especially if you are working from home alone. With more time on your hands, it is even more relevant now to watch your breath, eat foods that will give you the nutrients you need, get out for a walk and feel the Spring sun on your skin, and get enough sleep. Even something as simple as taking one minute every hour to take deep breaths could help improve your state of mind.
Many yoga and fitness instructors are offering group classes online. This can be a way to get some exercise while enjoying contact with others.
Educate yourself about COVID-19
The Government of Canada has information about the coronavirus that you may find helpful.
There are many places to look for support if you’re struggling, and most can be reached even while physical distancing.
- Family and friends
- Professional colleagues
- Human Resources at work
- Employee assistance programs through your work
- Community support groups
- Healthcare professionals can still be accessed through telehealth
- Spiritual leaders
- Wellness Together Canada: Mental Health and Substance Use Support
The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) has created self-care resources in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that anyone can access.
Self-care & Resilience Guide
This brief guide has suggestions for activities that can help as part of your daily routine. It includes a worksheet to create your own self-care and resilience plan, as well as contact info for mental health resources. You can download it here.
Self-care and helping others
This video deals with how we can help ourselves and others who are suffering from mental distress due to the pandemic and social isolation.
Notably, it talks about TV. While it can be a useful source of info, they recommend we limit our exposure to news channels, especially if you’re anxious. These programs tend to have little new material and lots of negative stories that might increase our anxiety. Instead, choose a favourite movie to watch, read a good book, or take up that hobby you haven’t had time for.
For parents of young children
Looking after yourself is essential if you’re also caring for others. Parents need to look after themselves so they can look after their children; children of aging parents need to do the same.
You can remind children that while they can be infected by the coronavirus, they are unlikely to get sick. Be sure to watch for signs of anxiety and talk to them about it. Perhaps most importantly, try not to let them see your anxiety.
Turn off the TV so they—and you—aren’t overwhelmed by the news. There are lots of positive stories, of people doing good things for others, that you can share.
School Mental Health Ontario offers a “Self-Care 101” infographic for kids and parents with 10 things to do to maintain wellbeing under times of stress.
For newcomers to Canada and their sponsors
Refugees to Canada may be experiencing the added stress of adjusting to life in a new country while they are isolated. This list of resources from the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, which has links in many languages, can be useful to anyone who is new to Canada.