Maintaining Good Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Today’s post comes from Jackie Brown. Jackie is a Research Assistant in the Centre for Global Child Health at the Hospital for Sick Children. She is also the current Resource Coordinator of the OC-SNP National Executive.
In Canada, we are now approaching the three-month mark of practicing physical distancing and adjusting to the multitude of lifestyle changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought. In a recent survey, 82% of respondents reported that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted their stress level.1 Of course, it is normal to feel concerned, anxious, lonely, and worried during this time and we each need to appropriately address these emotions. The tips and tricks below could help us maintain a good mental health during the pandemic.
To express our feelings: using a computer or a good old-fashioned pen and paper, to write (or draw) about whatever we want and how we are feeling. Journaling can help us reduce our anxiety by allowing us to express our feelings and thoughts in a safe and non-judgmental place. It also allows us to create order to our thoughts, which can be particularly helpful when the world around us feels chaotic during the pandemic.2
To maintain a sleep schedule: Physical distancing practices have also eliminated most of our daily schedules, including our sleep schedule! Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, where you wake up and go to bed around the same time each day, can help us fall asleep when we are experiencing sleep difficulties due to anxiety. It can also boost our mood, support our mental health and provide structure to days which feel quite the opposite during the pandemic.3
To stay social connected and physically distant: it is extremely difficult to have to stay physically distant from our friends, family and loved ones during this pandemic. However, we can still find unique ways to stay socially connected to those we care about most; Taking some time to send a text to some old friends, call our extended family members and finding unique ways to hang out online with our pals by using Google Hangouts, Zoom, Netflix Party or playing an online game.
To take care of our physical health: our mental and physical health are intimately intertwined, with the two influencing each other. Maintaining good dietary habits and staying physically active can have a very positive impact on our mental health and mood! Check out previous Obesity Canada blog posts on how to stay physically active3 and to maintain a healthy diet4 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To try something new: we can find a way to add some joy or productivity to our day by making time to try something new, or to complete a task we have been meaning to do for a while! Being stuck at home with nowhere to go means we may now have the time to take up a new craft, like knitting or collage, organize our closet, attempt a challenging recipe, or learn something new online. Finding something new to do can create a positive feeling of satisfaction!
To reach out for professional help: if your mental health has been significantly impacted recently, please reach out to a professional who can provide you with guidance on navigating your emotions. Many mental health care providers have transitioned to providing care over online formats. Don’t be shy to check out the comprehensive list of resources from Mind Your Mind to find a professional service that meets your needs.6 For a list of resources for domestic violence, see the Ending Violence Association of Canada.7
References and resources
1. The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Made Spotting Our Mental Health Warning Signs More Critical Than Ever – Marina Khidekel Thrive Global https://thriveglobal.com/stories/mental-health-learn-to-spot-recognize-stress-warning-signs-microsteps/
2. Journaling for Mental Health – University of Rochester Medical Center https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentID=4552&ContentTypeID=1
3. Sleep Guidelines During the COVID-19 Pandemic – Sleep Foundation https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-guidelines-covid-19-isolation
4. How To Be Physically Active During The COVID-19 Pandemic – Audrey St-Laurent Obesity Canada https://obesitycanada.ca/snp/how-to-be-physically-active-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/
5. Good Nutrition During The COVID-19 Pandemic: How Is It Possible? – Audrey St-Laurent Obesity Canada https://obesitycanada.ca/snp/good-nutrition-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-how-is-it-possible/
6. Where to Call – Mind Your Mind https://mindyourmind.ca/help/where-call
7. Find Help Across Canada – Ending Violence Association of Canada https://endingviolencecanada.org/getting-help/