As human beings, we rely on certain things to make us feel comfortable. We like our routines, interactions with others and our sense of certainty. When a crisis happens most of those things are out the window. We start to feel out of control and that can cause major stress.

Symptoms of Stress Can Include:

  • Disruptions in sleep, decreased energy and having trouble staying focused
  • An increase in anxiety about your own health or the health of the ones you love
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, aches and pains and stomach issues

While the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak is anything but normal, we can still take steps to help ease our stress and focus on not only our physical health but our mental health too. Here are a few ways you and your family can take care of your mental health during this time.

Watch Your Media Intake
The COVID-19 outbreak has taken over the news cycle. It can be very easy to get wrapped up in watching the constant coverage. Social media has also become one of the main ways we get our news. The never-ending tweets, posts and hashtags can be overwhelming and worrying. The endless stream of info only intensifies anxiety and stress. While staying informed is important, taking a break from non-stop news is crucial for better mental health. Try and only check social media or news coverage periodically throughout the day and make sure you’re getting your information from trusted news sources.

Stay Connected
We’re naturally social creatures, so it’s important to stay connected now more than ever. Talking about your stress with a friend or loved one is a great way to help deal with mental health issues. You can chat about your concerns, how you’ve been dealing with things or even just check-in and share a laugh. And technology makes connecting easier than ever! Try a group video chat with friends who you’d normally meet up for dinner with, or call a family member you haven’t talked to in a while.

Get Outside
Getting outside for some sunshine and fresh air can do wonders for the mind and the body. Although it’s best to stay at home now, it’s also important to get out of the house even if it’s for a quick walk around the neighbourhood. Just make sure you’re practicing social distancing when you go out by keeping a distance of at least 2 arms lengths (about 2 metres) from others.

Be Realistic About What You Can Control
With what’s going on in the world today, it’s easy to feel out of control – so focus on what you can control. You can wash your hands and practice social distancing. You can also stick as close as you can to your normal routine of showering, getting dressed and doing household chores.  Keep reminding yourself that this will pass and things will get back to normal again.

Take Care of Your Body
Taking care of your physical health can have a big impact on your mental health. When we’re stressed it can be tempting to make some choices that aren’t the best for our bodies. We may want to go for the cheeseburger and beer when we should be choosing some healthier options. Try to stick to healthy foods and definitely stay away from drugs or alcohol. Need a couple of healthy drink and meal ideas? Check out our tips on mocktails and add the odd vegan meal to your diet. Get exercise, do yoga or meditation and make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep.

Find Resources
When these other steps don’t seem to be working to help with your mental health, there are tons of resources out there for you to reach out to. Even if you’re worried about a friend or family member, these resources can help. Visit the Crisis Service Canada website or give them a call at 1.833.456.4566 or text 45645. You can also find a full listing of crisis centres across Canada with phone numbers, chat or text options.

The best thing you can do during this uncertain time, is make sure your mental health is a priority. Try to look at it as just a different period in your life where you learn to adapt and overcome adversity – maybe you’ll even pick up some new skills. If we all look out for each other’s physical and mental health, we can and will get through this.