Building Mental Health Supports During COVID-19

This pandemic has been hard on all of us. 2020 certainly has not turned out quite the way any of us expected it to many months ago. From cancelled plans and activities to decreased opportunities to see friends and family, the pandemic has caused a seismic shift in our day-to-day lives. This year’s holiday season will be vastly different in many households. The province’s recent measures aimed at curtailing the spread of COVID-19 mean that the common and cherished custom of gathering with family and friends to share in the festivities of the season will not happen in 2020.

This latest impact of the global pandemic may cause even more stress and feelings of isolation so it’s more important than ever to remember that these measures are temporary and that while we do our collective best to fight back COVID-19, we need to also take care of our mental health.

Here are some options to help you reset and focus on taking care of your mental health over the holiday season:

  • Virtually Connect with Friends and Family: While in-person connections are currently limited, we are fortunate to live in an age where digital options for connecting are plentiful. From our smartphones to our home computers, there are numerous options (such as Zoom, Facetime, Skype, etc.) to connect face-to-face with friends and family from our homes. From a simple conversation to using the time to play games or watch a movie together, options are there to keep us connected to those in our lives.
  • Take a Digital Break: Conversely, these new options have also meant that many of us have increased our screen-time considerably during the pandemic. Whenever you can, try to set aside a few minutes, or an hour, of digital-free time to disconnect from the information overload and reconnect to yourself by focusing on things or activities that are special to you. If you’re able, while respecting public health guidelines, consider going for an outdoor walk. Or use the time to meditate or practice yoga in your home. There’s always the option to curl up with a good book and a nice cup of cocoa or cider, as well. How you spend your digital-free time is up to you!
  • Keep a ‘Mindfulness’ Journal: Whether it’s a long-form journal or short-bullet points, expressing your daily thoughts on paper can be cathartic in many ways. Try and keep it positive, focusing on ‘good’ things that happened during the day or even just one or two things you’re thankful for from the day. If you need to ‘vent’ negative energy, do it BUT also try and focus on finding solutions to those negative problems.
  • Dance and Sing Like Nobody’s Watching or Listening: In addition to being good exercise, dancing can help shake off mental doldrums and help keep your body engaged. And singing can help release endorphins and provide comfort during times of stress. Whether you hit the right notes or not, it’s a great way to reset at the end of the day.
  • Everything in Moderation…Including Moderation: The holidays is traditionally a time to throw dieting habits aside for a few days and overindulge in hearty meals and various snack foods. While this can be comforting in the moment, high fat and high sugar foods can sometimes have a negative impact on mental health. Moderate your ‘junk food’ intake, but also don’t be too hard on yourself if you overindulge a little.
  • Ask For Help, or Offer it Where You Can: Everyone is handling these new day-to-day challenges differently, and some have adapted to our ‘new normal’ better than others. But you never know if someone is actually doing alright or simply putting on a brave face for those around them. As such, it is more important than ever to let others know that you’re around to talk to, provide help and guidance, or even just listen if they need someone to vent to. Don’t be afraid to offer help to friends and family, and don’t forget to ask for it if you need help yourself.

Lastly, know that there are systems in place to help you if you are struggling during this time. The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) operates dedicated phone lines throughout the province for those who are looking for help at this time. Whether you want to create a wellness plan for yourself, or just need someone to talk to, support is available. Find your local community line, or the provincial line, in the directory below.

CMHA Wellness Support Response Lines:

Prince Albert – 1-306-940-7678

The Battlefords – 1-306-441-5746

Saskatoon – 1-306-270-3648

Rosetown – 1-306-831-4083

Swift Current – 1-306-741-5148

Moose Jaw – 1-306-630-5968

Regina – 1-306-535-4292

Weyburn – 1-306-861-4951

Provincial – 1-306-421-1871

Youth Line – 1-306-730-5900

Additional Reading:

Provincial Mental Health Support Links

Taking Care of Your Mental and Physical Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Wellness Together Canada

211 Saskatchewan