Mental Health & COVID-19
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The COVID-19 pandemic is a unique and unexpected health crisis that has disrupted the lives and regular routines of individuals across the entire community.
During this time, individuals across Windsor-Essex County are experiencing unfamiliar situations that can be difficult to cope with, such as the closure of public and social spaces, restrictions on social gatherings, and having to remain physically distant.
Considering the level of disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused, it is normal to feel stressed or anxious.
Now, more than ever, it is important for everyone to safeguard their mental health and well-being. Managing stress and mental wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic is just as important as maintaining physical health. There are many steps that can be taken to manage and prevent stress and promote personal mental health and well-being during this time.
Strategies for Keeping Well
Follow the guidelines for reducing the risk of transmitting respiratory illnesses.
Taking the appropriate safety measures to protect and maintain physical health during the COVID-19 pandemic can help to alleviate the stress and fear that may be associated with this disease.
Engage in daily physical activity.
Find ways to stay active during the COVID-19 pandemic. Physical activity does not have to be too complicated. It can simply include taking the dog for a walk, riding a bike, playing active video games, or having a dance party! If you are required to self-isolate, remember that you cannot leave your home.
Virtual workouts and fitness classes are also widely available online for all fitness levels. For more great tips on selecting an online fitness class or staying active during the COVID-19 pandemic, please refer to the Physical Activity section of this website.
Eat healthy and sufficient foods at regular intervals according to Canada’s Food Guide.
Eating healthy can help to increase feelings of both physical and mental well-being. Canada’s Food Guide has many healthy eating tips, cooking guides, and healthy recipes for individuals and families to follow. Give some of the recipes a try! Cooking healthy recipes at home can be a great opportunity to bring the family together and do a fun learning activity.
For more great tips on developing food skills, preparing meals, and maintaining a healthy diet during the COVID-19 pandemic, please refer to the Food & Nutrition section of this website.
Practice meditation, relaxation techniques, or yoga.
Free guided meditations, relaxation exercises, and yoga classes can be found on Youtube or through Apple/Android apps. These practices can help to reduce anxiety or stress, instil a sense of calmness in the mind, and help individuals think more clearly. A few examples are provided below:
- For Adults: 5-Minute Guided Meditation to Relax and Recharge & 5 Minute Breathing Space
- For Kids: Check out Cosmic Kids Yoga on Youtube. They have a variety of yoga and mindfulness videos that parents and children can do together!
Minimize or avoid the use of alcohol and other substances.
Try to avoid using alcohol as a coping strategy to combat stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alcohol functions to slow down the central nervous system, which can create feelings of relaxation and reduce inhibition, judgement, and memory. Other substances, such as cannabis, can have similar short-term effects on the mind, including calmness, elevated mood, and impaired memory or judgement. As a result of these qualities, there are greater risks for increased use of alcohol and other substances during the COVID-19 pandemic as a method to cope with the stressful events that are unfolding.
When substances are used as method to cope or temporarily relieve stress and anxiety, it can worsen those feelings in the long-term and increase the risk of developing a substance use disorder. Alcohol use can also weaken the immune system and affect the way in which the body copes with infectious diseases. Other substance use, such as cannabis-use, can increase the risk of worsening health problems for individuals that have pre-existing respiratory conditions.
Healthier methods to cope with COVID-19 stress exist and can include staying active and involved in enjoyable activities, connecting with friends and family for support, practicing self-care, or seeking help from a mental health professional when needed. If you choose to drink or use cannabis, follow Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines and Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines to reduce risk. Make efforts to recognize and avoid possible triggers for alcohol or other substance use during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as emotional or psychological stress.
Maintain a regular schedule and daily routine.
Create a schedule each day to plan your daily tasks and activities. A consistent structure and routine can help individuals and their family members feel safe and re-establish a sense of normalcy within their everyday lives. Set regular times for meals, snacks, and sleep. For children, it is especially important to make sure that bedtime schedules are consistent. For more great tips on maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, please visit the Sleep section of this website.
Stay connected to friends, family members, and other social networks through technology.
Keep in mind that physical distancing does not have to mean socially disconnecting. Receiving and maintaining support from social networks during the COVID-19 crisis can be very helpful for managing feelings of stress. Use technology to stay connected during this time:
- Send an email to re-connect with some of your old contacts
- Schedule a time to have a daily phone call with friends and family
- Have a virtual “family meal”
- Play virtual games with friends and family through video chat. There are many apps/programs that you can use to video conference with others over the internet.
Participate in enjoyable activities.
Do things that make you feel good! Make these activities apart of your regular routine. This can include the following:
- Read a book
- Play a board game during family game night
- Watch a movie
- Try a new recipe
- Listen to music or a podcast
- Do a craft, paint, or colour
- Do a traditional puzzle or a mind stimulating puzzle (e.g., crossword, word search, Sudoku)
Keep your mind stimulated.
There are many online courses and resources available during this time to help keep your mind stimulated:
- Coursera: Offers a variety of free courses from recognized universities and companies.
- Duolingo: Learn a new language using Duolingo. It’s free and easy to use.
- Scholastic: Offers free learning journeys for different grade levels.
- Khan Academy: Offers free courses to children and adults covering math, science, and a variety of other topics.
- National Geographic for kids: Provides free educational videos, quizzes, and games to keep children entertained!
- Amazon’s Audible Stories: Kids can instantly stream a collection of stories in different languages.
- Google Arts & Culture: Partnered with over 1,200 museums worldwide to offer online virtual tours! Plan a family virtual visit to a museum here.
- Windsor-Essex Public Libraries: Local libraries offer online resources for those with a library card. Visit Windsor Public Library or Essex County Library to access books, magazines, music, and more!
Stay up-to-date on accurate information from legitimate sources.
It is important to stay informed about COVID-19 in order to take action in reducing its spread; however, the mass of information circulating through social media and other media channels can be overwhelming. A lot of information is disseminated about COVID-19 every day, but not all of it is accurate. Seek information from credible and reliable sources that can be trusted, such as this website or those from other credible, governmental health authorities, such as Health Canada or Public Health Ontario.
Limit media consumption.
Limiting media consumption can help to avoid increased feelings of stress or anxiety. Try to check in with media sources only once or twice per day and avoid watching or listening to media that may cause stress, anxiety, or fear. Instead, schedule enough time for activities that do not involve screens or technology, such as crafts, gardening, or reading.