Living through a pandemic is difficult for many reasons, including the toll it may take on mental health. Today we’re sharing some tips from BC Mental Health & Substance Use Services and Anxiety Canada on how you can support your mental health through this crisis.
Seven tips to support your mental health through the COVID-19 pandemic:
1. Stay connected
Although we aren’t seeing everyone we normally would in person, it’s important to maintain a level of social connection that makes you feel supported. Phone calls, video calls and even a physically distanced conversation (if you’ve expanded your bubble during phase 2) can help you manage stress and boost your mood.
2. Make sure your basic body needs are met
Physical and mental well-being are connected. Taking steps to maintain your physical well-being can be an important factor in maintaining mental wellness.
- Eat well
This doesn’t mean eating a nutritionally perfect diet, but instead finding a balance of a variety of foods that make you feel good—emotionally and physically. While no one food will be a cure-all, incorporating a variety of healthy, nutrient dense foods (and some foods that are just plain tasty) can help you stay healthy.
- Get enough sleep
Getting adequate sleep helps mental well-being in a variety of ways including helping you process information and making you more resilient to stress.
If you struggle with getting enough sleep, try establishing a consistent routine and limiting your screen time before bed.
It’s not only good for your body. Exercise can be an effective stress reliever.
Exercising doesn’t have to be a daunting task, especially during this time where you might have additional stressors on your plate. If you don’t feel up to something high energy, try taking a physically distant walk around the neighbourhood.
3. Try a relaxation practice
There are many different practices that can help you to de-stress. Different practices suit different people, so you can give a variety a try and see what works (or doesn’t) for you. Some ideas to start your search are: yoga, meditation or a breathing pattern practice.
4. Limit your time checking the news
In the digital age, it’s easy to find yourself scrolling through social media sites, news articles or watching TV for much longer than you had intended. While it’s good to have enough information about what’s going on to make good choices, too much of a good thing can be mentally draining. Try to find a balance that keeps you informed without taking a hefty emotional toll.
5. Spend your time on reliable sources
Related to the last point, it also matters what kind of information you’re absorbing. False information, apart from being harmful, can be draining (especially if it comes with a chain of arguing comments). Instead, you can consider periodically checking a handful of reliable sources for updates:
- The BC Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC)
- The Government of BC
- The Government of Canada
- The World Health Organization (WHO)
6. Equip yourself with what you can do
There are a number of things each of us can do to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 including physical distancing, practicing good hand hygiene, staying home if your sick, wearing non-medical masks where physical distancing isn’t possible, and other recommendations found in the links above. An added side benefit of having this knowledge, is that it may help you to feel empowered rather than helpless when considering COVID-19.
7. Be self-compassionate
Know that this is an uncertain time and it’s normal to experience more worry or anxiety than usual. Don’t put expectations on yourself to immediately feel better, but if you’re able to, you can take time to participate in practices (perhaps some of the above) that may help you.
Also, be realistic in what you expect of yourself during this time. Perhaps now isn’t the time to expect yourself to be extra productive—or perhaps you need the distraction and it is! The point is, during this time, you should cater your expectations to be realistic to your experience.
Because this is an unprecedented and stressful time, much of our energy is going to adjusting to and managing our new landscape, and that may mean you have less bandwidth elsewhere; be kind to yourself if you find that’s the case. And, if you need more and/or immediate support, check out the resources below.
What if you need support?
In the case of an emergency:
- Call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency room.
If you need more support:
- The Government of BC has a page dedicated to mental health resources (most of them free) that may be helpful to you.
Did you like this? You might like these posts too!
- Want to help others (safely) during the pandemic?
- Talking to kids about COVID-19
- Ideas for celebrating special occasions while physical distancing
- What to expect in phase 2 of BC’s Restart Plan
- What to think about if you’re widening your social circle
- Wellness Together Canada: mental health resource spotlight
Where do we fit in? Yes, we are a provincial regulator. We are responsible for some very specific transactions in BC. We aren’t experts on COVID-19. We won’t – and shouldn’t – ever give medical or legal advice. But we are in a unique circumstance right now and we want to help people navigate the current reality. We don’t have all the answers, but we will do our best to share information from reliable sources, put it in ways that are easy to digest and understand, provide referrals and help you navigate this situation.
About Consumer Protection BC: We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.