Taking care of your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

By Public Affairs | April 15, 2020

Essential Tips for Wellness graphic

There have been many rapid changes to protect all of us from the spread of COVID-19. If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or even depressed as a result, know that you are not alone and that help is available. In times of transition and uncertainty, taking good care of ourselves is more important than ever and Okanagan College Counselling Services has some tips and resources to share.

Essential strategies for wellness:

  1. Look after your basic needs. Eat well, drink lots of water, get enough sleep and get some exercise. When we take good care of our bodies, it helps keep our brains healthy and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  2. Follow or create a routine. Wake up and go to sleep around the same time every day, make your bed, get dressed and set a goal for each day. Routines help us to have a sense of structure and safety and are useful in uncertain times for adults and children alike. Having a routine helps you to know what to expect throughout the day and may help with productivity. If you’re struggling to set a routine, try talking to a friend and check in with each other about your efforts to keep each other accountable. Write down your schedule and daily goals and post them somewhere visual.
  3. Stay connected: using phone, text, video chat or social media, stay in regular communication with friends and family. Schedule visits ahead of time to give yourself moments of connection to look forward to. For example, check in every lunch hour with a different classmate or coworker – you could each go for a walk while you chat. Or, plan to meet up virtually with a group of friends by video chat. Some games, like Scattergories, Battleship or Charades are surprisingly easy to play remotely.
  4. Get some fresh air and sunshine when you can: schedule it into your day. Be mindful when you choose somewhere to spend time outside, opting for locations that don’t usually get too busy, and offer plenty of room to respect physical distance if you do cross paths with people.
  5. Practice mindfulness using activities such as meditation, yoga, art-making or journaling. You can find many free apps and websites for learning to meditate or doing yoga at home.
  6. Limit the amount of time you watch or listen to media coverage. Find a credible source you can trust for facts. Social media is generally not a trustworthy source for information. You may want to allocate some time in your day to check in with a trustworthy news source, ideally not right before bedtime. Set a goal to limit mindless refreshing of news and social media apps. This might mean turning your phone and devices off for certain periods of time or leaving it in a different room. For many people, the early days of the pandemic led to frequent news-checking, but it’s important to recognize that as we settle into the experience, we likely don’t require the same frequency of updates. Taking time away from news and social media may help you to stay grounded and focus on the other things that you care about in your life.
  7. Remind yourself that the pandemic is time-limited. Life will eventually return to normal.

Resources for learning about how to take care of your mental health at this time:

Coping with stress during the COVID-19 pandemic – World Health Organization

COVID-19 and Anxiety - Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division

FACE COVID – How to respond effectively to the coronavirus crisis. In this brief animation, Dr. Russ Harris, illustrates how to deal with the coronavirus crisis and the fear, anxiety and worry that goes with it.

Support is available:

  • The Province of British Columbia is rolling out extensive online and telephone supports for mental health for people of all ages. More information can be found here.
  • The Foundry (Kelowna, Penticton) continues to provide primary medical care and counselling for youth 12-24 years of age, as well as some groups which have moved online. For more information, click here.
  • If you are in need of immediate listening and support, please contact the BC Crisis Line at 1-888-353-2273 (available 24/7).

Useful apps and websites:

Tags: COVID, Services for Students, Counselling



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