With news of the new stay-at-home order, Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario Division reminds people that they can take some simple and basic steps to help them manage their mental health during these challenging times.
“The next month of stay at home is necessary to maintain physical health, but it will no doubt be hard on everyone’s mental health. It will add stress, worry, anxiety and other mental health issues they may be facing during this pandemic,” said Camille Quenneville, CEO, CMHA Ontario.
“While these tips may seem basic, we encourage Ontarians now more than ever to try some of these simple tools that may help,” Quenneville said. “If you can build them into your daily routine you may get some relief, if even for a brief period.”
- It’s normal to feel anxious. Try not to avoid, ignore or suppress anxious thoughts. Instead, be aware of your anxiety and accept that you’re feeling anxious in this situation. Try to keep things in perspective, notice and challenge your thoughts that may be extreme or unhelpful.
- Only read, watch or listen to news when you want to. That means turn off push notifications on your phone and set aside only an hour per day to stay informed from credible, balanced sources.
- While you can’t be together physically, stay socially connected with friends and family by phone, text or virtually.
- Do something good or helpful. Research shows that doing things for others strengthens our own mental health. Check on your neighbours, elderly parents and friends to see how they’re doing and if they need help picking up groceries, medications and other important household items.
- Stay connected with the outdoors. If you’re able to do so safely, consider going outdoors for a walk, run or bike ride to enjoy the scenery and fresh air. If you’re worried about crowds, consider going out at off-peak hours (early morning, late evening) to avoid proximity.
- Routines can help reduce mental fatigue, so getting up at your usual time, showering and getting dressed as you normally would for work can be helpful. Eating healthy, drinking water and getting plenty of sleep are also important factors.
- Continue to exercise or do the things you would typically do to support your health and be sure to use caution and follow health and safety guidelines while doing them. Housework, walking up and down stairs, and outdoor activities like raking leaves, cleaning the yard, or prepping the garden are also sources of physical activity.
- Try accomplishing tasks at home. Take time to organize your pantry, cupboards or closets, or do something you’ve been putting off for a while, such as sorting through your basement or garage for unwanted or recyclable items. Accomplishing such tasks may reduce stress and anxiousness and give you a sense of accomplishment.
- Practice mindfulness, meditation or yoga to help you stay grounded and focused when you begin to feel stress and worry in your body. There are plenty of resources online and it’s not as hard as you think.
- If you’re noticing that your symptoms of anxiety (related to COVID-19 or otherwise) are causing you significant distress or are interfering with your ability to function normally, consider participating in Ontario’s Structured Psychotherapy Program, which offers a mix of services, including CMHA’s BounceBack program. BounceBack is a free skill-building program for adults and youth 15+ who want to gain practical life skills to help them better manage their symptoms of low mood, mild-to-moderate depression and anxiety, stress or worry. For more information or to see if the BounceBack program may be right for you, visit bounceback.ca.
“The stay-at-home order is necessary but it won’t be easy for many Ontarians who are already struggling. Mental health and addictions resources are needed, so we encourage the government to continue supporting the mental health and addictions sector so that we may be able to serve people who are coming forward seeking help.”
If you’re in need of support, contact your local CMHA (cmha.ca/find-your-cmha), or call or visit Connex Ontario (connexontario.ca; 1-866-531-2600).
About Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario is a not-for-profit, charitable organization. We work to improve the lives of all Ontarians through leadership, collaboration and continual pursuit of excellence in community-based mental health and addictions services. Our vision is a society that embraces and invests in the mental health of all people. We are a trusted advisor to government, contributing to health systems development through policy formulation and recommendations that promote positive mental health. Our 28 local CMHA branches, together with community-based mental health and addictions service providers across the province, serve approximately 500,000 Ontarians each year.