Updated: Mar 31
***Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not provide medical, legal, or health advice and is not a substitute for mental health services
In this pandemic, people everywhere are affected by feelings of uncertainty, depression, anxiety, stress, overwhelm, and loss. Maintaining our mental health and wellbeing during this time will help us cope.
Everyone deals with and responds to stressors in different ways. Finding coping strategies that work best for you is the key. Below are some coping strategies that might be helpful. Think about which one or which ones stand out to you and start from there.
1. Grounding techniques
Focusing on your breath going ‘in’ and ‘out’, looking at something in your room (e.g. a plant, a picture of a loved one), visualizing your favorite place (e.g. a vacation memory- sights, sounds, smells), may help bring you back to yourself when you are dealing with distressing thoughts.
2. Relaxation strategies
Drinking a couple of tea, eating your favorite meal, watching a comedy, listening to calming music, practicing meditation, getting outside for some fresh air (while being physically distant) -- these are examples of ideas to try that might help you feel relaxed.
3. Do what feels good
What activities make you feel good? Do you like cooking, baking, writing, drawing, gardening, playing with your pet, reading? Other ideas? The list goes on.
Anything that can get your mind off feeling sad or anxious or stressed, even for a short time, will be a welcome distraction.
4. Keep it simple
Think about one or a couple of tasks on your to-do-list you can realistically do in a time that feels reasonable to you.
Being productive does not mean you have to do everything all at once or work at all hours of the day and night. Rest when you need to and try not to put too much pressure on yourself.
5. Be kind to yourself
Treat yourself well. Saying positive things to yourself, such as “I’m trying my best” or “I will get through this” or “I’m helping others who are important to me by calling them to check in” will help you manage feelings of overwhelm and stress.
6. Take breaks from media
It’s important to be informed, but know when you’ve reached your limit with the news or social media and turn it off. It’s ok to take breaks when you need to.
7. Practice gratitude
Think about things you are grateful for. For example, being healthy today and at this moment, appreciating the important people you have in your life, and other reflections can take you outside of your worries and allow you to focus on something positive.
8. Follow health recommendations from trusted sources
Some of the recommendations so far to reduce exposure to COVID-19 include:
only go out when you have to for groceries or if you are working in an essential business (e.g. healthcare, emergency services, etc.)
wash your hands often with soap and water
keep 2 meters or 6 feet away from other people
clean commonly touched surfaces often
Following these guidelines can help reduce your risk.
9. Stay socially connected -- virtually
Be in touch with loved ones through phone calls, video calls, texting, or social media chat. Use a virtual format and schedule that works well for you and others.
Let your partner, family, or friends know if you are having a hard time coping and how they can best be there for you. Staying connected with loved ones helps manage isolation, loneliness, and low mood.
10. Call your doctor
If you are trying strategies and continue to feel that your mood is not improving or if you are concerned about your mental health, you may want to call your doctor to explain the situation and ask how they can help you.
Your doctor may be able to make a referral to a mental health professional or explore other ways that they can support your wellbeing.
Mental Health Crises Resources
If you are having a mental health crisis, there are community resources out there to help you.
The Canadian Suicide Prevention Service 1 833 456 4566
First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Helpline 1 855 242 3310
Kids Help Phone 1 800 668 6868 or text TALK to 686868
ConnexOntario 1 866 531 2600
Telehealth Ontario 1 866 797 0000
***If you are at risk of hurting yourself, call 911 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.
Please know that you are not alone. Talk to your loved ones and get professional help if you need it. Test out one or more of the coping strategies above. And remember to take things one day at a time.
Wishing you well on your mental health journey.
Davina Tiwari MSW, RSW, CSFT
Registered Social Worker and Certified Solution Focused Therapist
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