Coping with mental health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Morneau Shepell released its latest Mental Health IndexTM and found a significant decrease in mental health when compared to pre-COVID-19. The survey specifically asked about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The vast majority of respondents reported that the COVID-19 pandemic is having some impact on their mental health.

Sense of purpose and social connection are key variables for wellbeing. COVID-19 has been disruptive on our usual and predictable strategies and developing new approaches is putting strain on our overall sense of wellbeing. The COVID-19 pandemic is new and unexpected. This situation can be unsettling and can cause a sense of loss of control. It is normal for people to feel sad, stressed, confused, or worried. People will react in different ways.

Recognize how you are feeling

In times of high stress, our typical coping skills may not be enough. It is important that you recognize symptoms that you are having trouble coping such as frustration, shock, denial, or anger, and develop a short-term plan to help you cope.

The ways that help us manage more successfully and build resilience can include:

Take care of your body – Our bodies need predictability and structure. Make sure you are eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly.

Take care of yourself, even in a more restrictive and or confined space – Find time to unwind and step away from the situation. Take breaks, assess how you are feeling, and remind yourself that these feelings can pass. Even stand in your door way or in front of an open window and take a deep breath of fresh air. 

Stay connected – Physical distance does allow for social connection. Create a circle of support. Spend time calling and email with people who are supportive. Also try to think about who needs your support? Social connection are key to remaining strong and well. Make sure you are sharing your concerns and your feelings with someone you trust. Keep up with your social circle.

Maintain perspective – Even in a situation were the world has changed so dramatically try to determine what you have control over. Recognize what you can control and what might be beyond your control. Build a new routine and ensure that you invest your time and attention in the things that align with your priorities.

If you need help, seek help

Try to be self-aware and if your mood is flattening and your sleep pattern is not improving, and you continue to struggle to eat, you may need some extra support. It is always better to get help as soon as you start to feel stressed. If you cannot shake these feelings within in a few days, you should seek help. There are a number of resources to help you. Connect to your EAP for confidential support and guidance.

If you have suffered from mental health issues and illness, you must try to be extra sensitive and aware of any new or worsening symptoms. If you do have counsellor or doctor, or use strategies to cope, it is important to continue with these supports. It is not uncommon in stressful times to increase the frequency of sessions you have, and develops plans to address new or increasing distress.


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