COVID-19 has affected us all in different ways. One day you may find yourself full of frustration for the changes thrust upon you. Yet, you may also find gratitude in your days, such as gratitude for the courageous work of healthcare workers, grocery clerks, and the many other people working to keep us well and maintain some normalcy. It hasn't been easy. To stay well and keep others safe we've forgone celebrations such as birthdays, weddings, and other important milestones. Most notably, work has changed, many have lost jobs, and of those who are still working, many remain isolated within their homes.
Despite recent challenges, light has appeared at the end of the tunnel by discovering and distributing a vaccine. Just as we must continue to be vigilant in our activities and outward behaviours to protect ourselves and others' physical health, we must maintain routines that care for our mental health.
Lately, you've seen that caring for your mental health is more than balancing thoughts and feelings. Amidst this disruption, caring for our mental health means caring for our lives' emotional, physical, and social aspects.
How we perceive the world around us impacts the feelings we hold within us; unsurprisingly, caring for your mind involves mindfulness for the activities and habits you do every day.
Be informed, but schedule breaks
In these uncertain times, it's helpful to stay informed. However, continuously consuming news can also be upsetting. Find a healthy balance. Set boundaries for yourself, maybe you decide not to take in news and COVID updates before bed to help calm your mind for a more restful sleep.
Know what to do if you are sick and are concerned about COVID-19
Lately, you may be feeling a lack of control in life. Having a plan can help steer you towards a new sense of empowerment. Having a plan for how you would respond if you happen to become ill can help you feel empowered. Consider things such as being aware of your closest testing facility, public health contact numbers if you have any questions, and familiarity with the current government and workplace programs if you need to be away from work due to illness.
Not necessarily bubble baths and beauty habits, (unless that's your jam) self-care consists of a variety of well researched and peer tested activities you can do to care for your mental and physical self.
Set and maintain a routine at home.
Focus on things you can control.
Listen to music or read a book.
Write out how you feel in a journal
Choose reliable news sources that report facts.
Avoid media that sensationalizes people or events.
Allow yourself to grieve. It's okay to feel frustrated.
Make time to unwind. Whether through a hobby, video games, a favourite show, or giving yourself space to breathe.
You are not alone in this journey. Better yet, recognizing you may need some extra support is a sign of strength in your ability to take care of yourself.
Possible supports may include, connecting with a counsellor, finding a community of supportive peers, friends and family, or your doctor.
Nothing in this list is a surprise to you. Depending on how COVID currently impacts you or the community around you, it's okay that some of these may be difficult right now. Be kind to yourself, set a goal of small gradual improvements rather than committing to significant changes in how you care for yourself physically.
Fuel your body by eating healthy. Maintain a well-balanced diet and drink plenty of water. Sleep! Good for your mind and body, aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Exercise. Schedule time to sweat a little, physical activity is excellent for your overall health. Breathe. Take deep breaths and stretch often. Spend time outside. Consider going for a walk in the park, but follow local health and social distancing guidelines.
Connect with others. Although we are more apart then many of us would prefer, we can still connect. Schedule a call using Google Meet to catch up with a friend or join people online to connect through video games and virtual worlds. Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations. Many community groups have gone virtual. Why not try a service like MeetUp to find folks with shared interests in your area? Likewise, many faith-based organizations have also gone virtual and now broadcast sermons and gatherings on popular platforms like YouTube.
Although your life may have changed in unexpected ways due to COVID, there are many things you can continue to do to stay happy, healthy, and connected. Remember, you are not alone - we are all in this together.
After experiencing several challenges attempting to access care after being diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) caused by childhood trauma. Aidan's experience, reinforced by his experiences working in the public health sector has inspired him to seek out new ways to reduce barriers and improve access to mental health care using technology.