The COVID-19 outbreak and pandemic may cause feelings of stress, anxiety and fear in anyone. Whether you’re a front-line healthcare worker, experiencing symptoms or simply practicing physical distancing, people from all walks of life are susceptible to mental health issues during this time. It’s important to remember that coping in healthy ways will help strengthen you, your loved ones and your community. Here are five tips for prioritizing mental health during this uneasy time.
1. Understand that everyone reacts differently to stressful situations like the COVID-19 pandemic.
The way in which you react to this pandemic — and the intensity of emotions you feel as a result — has a lot to do with your background, your state of mental and physical health, your life experience and your community. You don’t have to be sick or quarantined to be “allowed” to feel scared, worried or sad, so give yourself permission to experience your emotions and be conscious of coping in healthy ways.
People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue their treatment and alert their healthcare professional(s) of any changes during this time.
2. Stay connected.
In this time of physical distancing, remember that the mandate is only to physically distance ourselves from others. Staying socially connected is more important than ever. Luckily, technology allows us to maintain regular communication with family, friends, neighbours and even community organizations.
Be sure to make time to talk with friends during phone or video calls regularly — and prioritize staying in touch with older family members, friends and neighbours who may be feeling particularly isolated. This is also the ideal time to leverage positive social media use; since you can’t get to the library, gym or community centre you love, check to see if your favourite organizations are hosting live video events or if they've set up chat groups online.
3. Control your news intake.
Constantly reading, listening to and/or watching the news can aggravate anxiety and fear surrounding COVID-19. It’s important to stay informed, but rather than getting ongoing updates throughout the day, dedicate a limited amount of time for research, and only visit reputable news sources like for information, including:
- Government of Canada
- Government of Canada – Frequently Asked Questions
- Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention
- Government of Canada – Recommendations for travelers
- World Health Organization
4. Practice mindfulness and self-care.
During times of increased stress, it’s crucial to prioritize sleep, good nutrition and self-care. While your to-do list has likely gotten longer as a result of this pandemic, it is important to set aside time — even 15 minutes — every day to do something you love, and that brings you into the present moment. Meditating, stretching, taking a bath, cooking, journaling, reading a book for pleasure, playing a board game or going for a walk are some ideas. If you’re juggling work and childcare like many Canadians, try scheduling a childcare swap with your partner so that you can each make time for self-care.
5. Seek help when you need it.
If you or someone you care about is feeling overwhelmed by anxiety, sadness or thoughts of self harm, contact 911. Virtual healthcare platforms can also provide on-demand support from medical professionals 24/7.