The COVID-19 pandemic has likely brought many changes to your life, and with it, uncertainty. For so many, uncertainty can lead to anxiety. Social distancing makes it even more challenging because many of us are isolated and may not have access to our usual support systems.
There are ways we can take care of ourselves during this time. Here are some self-care strategies that can help you cope:
Stay connected: social distancing does not mean emotional distancing
- Find time each day to make virtual connections by email, texts, phone, or video call, or other similar apps.
- If you’re working remotely from home, ask your co-workers how they’re doing and share coping tips.
- Spend time with your companion animal (if you have one). Pets can help alleviate stress, anxiety, depression, and feelings of loneliness and social isolation.
- The most important thing that we can and are doing now is take care of ourselves and our loved ones, remember staying home has a purpose.
Try to maintain some routine
- If you can, try to maintain some routine. Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t and remember routines can be adjusted or just thrown out the window altogether.
Be mindful of physical health
- Regular physical activity and exercise can help reduce anxiety and improve your mood.
- Find an activity that includes movement, such as dance or exercise apps. Get outside in an area that makes it easy to maintain distance from people.
- Eat well-balanced meals as much as possible. Jewish Family Services is providing meal and food delivery.
Relax and Recharge
- Set aside time for yourself. Even a few minutes of quiet time can be refreshing and help to quiet your mind and reduce anxiety.
- Many people benefit from practices such as deep breathing or meditation.
- Listen to music, dance, cook, read or listen to a book — whatever helps you relax. Select a technique that works for you and practice it regularly.
- Take time to rest, set aside time to rest in bed allowing your body and mind to recharge and sleeping if you can.
Reduce stress triggers
- Limit exposure to news media. Constant news about COVID-19 from all types of media can heighten fears and anxiety.
- Limit social media that may expose you to myths and false information.
- Turn off electronic devices for some time each day, including before bedtime.
- Make a conscious effort to spend less time in front of a screen — television, tablet, computer and phone.
- Reduce assumptions about what’s going on
- Focus on what is in your control
- Search for positive news/stories
- If you draw strength from a spiritual belief system, it can bring you comfort during difficult times.
- There are traditional healing practices/groups organizing virtual gatherings – eg through Facebook that can be helpful
- A distraction can get you away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed anxiety and depression. Enjoy hobbies that you can do at home, identify a new project or clean out that closet you promised you’d get to. Doing something positive to manage anxiety is a healthy coping strategy.
- Don’t become overwhelmed by creating a life-changing list of things to achieve while you’re home.
- Set reasonable goals each day and outline steps you can take to reach those goals. Give yourself credit for every step in the right direction, no matter how small.
Be Patient with yourself
- It is normal to feel overwhelmed at this time, and you are coping with the situation in the best way that you can. Everyone copes with stress differently.
- Reduce self-judgment and be patient with yourself on how and what you eat, what you buy, what you’re wearing at this time, how quick you respond to messages, and more. It is okay to do whatever makes you feel comfortable and safe at this time (and at any time!).
- Frustration, hopelessness, and feeling scared are normal, but keep in mind that COVID-19 is temporary. Scientists are finding vaccines and solutions, more people are recovering from COVID-19 than not, and there is help available everywhere. You are not alone.
Get support when you need it
- It’s normal to feel stress and worry during a crisis. But, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic can push you beyond your ability to cope.
- You may find yourself feeling helpless, sad, angry, irritable, hopeless, anxious or afraid. You may have trouble concentrating on typical tasks, changes in appetite, body aches and pains, or difficulty sleeping or you may struggle to face routine chores.
- If you have concerns or if you experience worsening of mental health symptoms, ask for help when you need it
- Call or use social media to contact a close friend or loved one — even though it may be hard to talk about your feelings.
- Call your primary care provider or mental health professional to ask about appointment options to talk about your anxiety or depression and get advice and guidance. Some may provide the option of phone, video or online appointments.
If you need immediate assistance call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest hospital. If you need emotional support, help is available.
BWSS Crisis line remains open, providing emotional support to women experiencing gender-based domestic violence and/or uncertainty during these difficult times. Call 604-687-1867 or 1-855-687-1868 or text 604-652-1867, 24 hours, seven days a week.
Crisis help across Canada
The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention provides a list of crisis centres across Canada. Crisis centres are there for people who are reaching out for help
Kids Help Phone
Kids Help Phone is Canada’s only national helpline for young people between the ages of 5 and 20. It offers:
- 24-hour confidential and anonymous support
- professional counsellors and counselling options
- online resources that provide tips and advice on the challenges that young people face
Call 1-800-668-6868 to connect with Kids Help Phone, or send the word “text” to 686868. You can also download the Always There app.
Hope for Wellness Help Line
- This help line gives free national telephone crisis intervention and counselling support for First Nations and Inuit.
- Help can be reached toll-free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 1-855-242-3310.
For more long-term care, contact a First Nations and Inuit Health regional office