How Are You? Seriously.

10 July 2020

K. Baker 2020.06.16

If the stressors of daily life weren’t enough before, along came a global pandemic, better known as COVID-19. We watched the news, unsure of what it was, and before we knew it, it reached Canada – in our own communities. Things changed fast. From working one day, to being laid off the next, some services and businesses closed their doors temporarily. If that wasn’t enough, we were then advised to stay home so that we could help control the spread of this unknown virus. For many, this meant not being able to interact with extended family, close friends or colleagues. The new realities of 2020: social isolation and physical distancing. These two things can have a huge impact on one’s mental health.

Physical distancing took on a life of its own. What I found affected me is that no one says hello anymore – even when at a safe distance. It could be the wearing of masks, hiding the mouth and/or smile, but even eyes or a wave can say hello too. Canadians are known for being pleasant, kind and nice – for not only saying sorry, but also hello. This tells me that people are really scared. 

We all have our own experience – our own story. I was fortunate to be able to continue working from home, for which I am thankful. I know that my story would be different if this wasn’t the case. One area that I personally had to work on and be aware of was my COVID-19 information intake. At times it felt like it was “everything COVID-19” and I could feel my mood and my mind get very distant and overwhelmed. I needed to be aware of when I had enough and shut down the television and/or social media and readjust.

Life already comes with daily situations that can impact your mental health, such as relationships, career, finance, health and daily living. Now throw in a loss of job and the financial instability that follows. For many students, classes had to pivot to be completed online – a new way of learning for some. The adjustments and uncertainty of it all is what can create unrest.

One thing we do have control over is how we choose to handle it. Easier said than done, I know! But awareness of where you are at is the first step and probably the most important. You need to recognize how and what you are feeling and know that it is okay. Trust me, you are not the only one – and as we are reminded every day since this started – “We are all in this together!
 
Three steps that might help you through this time:

1.   Be mindful

Stress, depression, anxiety can overtake our minds, and before we know it, we can be in a place that we don’t want to be. There are activities and/or strategies available to help manage this. To be present in the moment.

Meditation || Yoga || Tai-chi || Take a bath || Technology detox || Read a book w. a cup of tea || Listen to music or a podcast
|| Hobby || Arts and Crafts || Play a game || Puzzle || Hug a loved one (your pet counts too (or stuffed animal)) 

2.   Keep moving

An active body contributes to a healthy body and mind. Embrace the beauty that surrounds us; it can be therapeutic as well.  

Walking || Hiking || Cycling || Kayaking || Paddleboarding || Swimming || Dancing || Yoga || Weights

Fun Facts: DYK …

  • The world is about 40,000+ km in circumference and the average walking rate is 4.8 km/hour, it would take a person walking nonstop approximately 347 days to walk around the world.
  • ​Walking 6,000 steps/day can improve health and 10,000 steps/day can help lose weight.

3.   Talk it out!

When we deny or hold onto our thoughts and feelings, they can spin out of control. Talking it out can put our thoughts and feelings into perspective. It gives us the opportunity to take charge and get the help we need to work through it.    
 
There is help available.  You do not need to struggle with it alone.  Reach out and take that first step.  Visit WorkBC.ca’s COVID-19 resources where you will find mental health and well-being supports that are available for EVERYONE. If you are feeling suicidal, call the Crisis Line at 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) immediately.

As Dr. Bonnie Henry says: Be Kind. Be Calm. Be Safe.”