- Posted by Jon Harju
- On October 7, 2020
We are now deep in the throws of the pandemic and facing it has become part and parcel of our daily lives. In honour of Mental Illness Week and World Mental Health Day, let’s review what we have learned from the past 8 months and what we need to consider in the month’s ahead to continue facing this relentless challenge.
Finding normalcy in abnormal times
There is no doubt that the pandemic has touched almost everyone’s lives and created change to our everyday way of living. When life is in a constant state of flux, it is important to reflect onwhat hasn’t changed, to help anchor us throughout the storm. Think about the things you do, every day, that have remained the same. When you have few constants or need more meaningful ones, create routines as a way to establish predictability-and stability in your life.
Consider your morning routines, things that help you prepare for the day. Are you an early riser? Do you have time to reflect and plan your day? Or do you get things ready the night before as you enjoy the comfort of your bed for as long as possible?
Can you eat your meals at roughly the same time and continue (or start) your exercise routine from home? Many gyms are offering home workout videos on social media, and there are hundreds of tutorials you can follow on sites such as Youtube for free. Establishing and maintaining routines can help keep us on track and assist us in feeling like we have more control over our lives as things unfold.
Limit social media “news”
At this point, news surrounding COVID-19 is everywhere you look on social networking sites. Social media can be great in terms of having communication with our community, but it’s no secret that too much or incorrect information can do more harm than good. Try to limit your time surfing reputable sites such as the Government of Canada website or the World Health Organization. Think about the amount of social media that you expose yourself to. At what point does it foster a sense of being overwhelmed?
We have learned all too well in these last few months of being housebound that there is such a thing as too much ‘screen time’. Take breaks, move your body in any way that you can. Climb stairs, go to another area in your home, put on music, and dance. Try to get outside, safely, every day if possible. Take in daylight. Even cloudy exposure is better than staying inside all day.
Reach out to loved ones
Perhaps one of the most important learnings from the pandemic is the need for social connection. Many of us, if not most have experienced loneliness and isolation. Some have chosen to withdraw from others. Social connection is a critical part of mental wellbeing, so consider your needs on a daily and weekly basis. Who can you reach out to on a regular basis? Who do you get comfort from? Who can you support in turn?
Which of your social contacts is someone you laugh with? A great listener? A good distraction?
If you can safely social distance visit or walk-great! If not, facetime or zoom, call, email, or text. Do whatever you can to stay connected regardless of your emotional state.
Consider your time in a meaningful way.
If there is one thing that many of us have experienced when social restrictions are in place, it is having more time. Time is easily wasted however and some have used the term ‘groundhog day’ (meaning doing the same thing every day) or have described feeling bored and unmotivated. One strategy to combat this is to think of time as a resource to help you get your needs met. Planning for social, self-care, nourishment, as well as household task time can allow us to feel accomplished and better balanced. But
also consider using some time to exercise and challenge your mind. Think creative, learning, and playful time as well. Plan out activities of interest that fit into these categories if you are able.
Learning can be a lifelong pursuit and can help you grow and develop, which may be especially important during this time where many are feeling stuck and stagnant. Websites such as Coursera or edX offer college and university classes for free. There are lots of unconventional ways to learn online as well; Skillshare offers online learning classes for a wide variety of categories, and sites such as GeoGuessr allow you to see the world from the comfort of your own home. Many museums also offer virtual tours that you can take for free, which is a great and educational activity for the whole family.
Download Snapclarity to access mental well-being resources and support from the comfort of your home.