It’s likely safe to say that we are in unprecedented times.
Even though Bill Gates predicted a pandemic would happen a few years ago, I don’t think the global governments had prepared for something like this to happen.
First off, for anyone reading this, I want to let you know you’re doing fine. I know there’s a lot of pressure to be “active” or “productive” during this time, and while learning new skills or working on your business is a great thing to do, taking time to adjust is also important.
Your mental health matters. Collectively, this is a traumatic experience.
Some of us have loved ones that were or will be affected by COVID19.
It is perfectly normal if you are feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed.
I know it’s impacted people in many ways:
- People losing loved ones due to COVID19
- People losing their salaried jobs due to COVID19-related layoffs
- People who already have poor mental health who are feeling worse
- The homeless, Indigenous, and marginalized peoples more marginalized
In this post, I wanted to touch upon some mental health resilience exercises and tips that I have picked up in my counselling classes (rooted in empirical theories) that will hopefully serve as helpful to you in ensuring your mental health stays strong during this time. I’ll also be sharing some practical ideas for how you can also take care of others during this self-isolation period.
Also: As a disclaimer, I recognize that not everyone has the privilege or luxury of staying or working at home. Some of you are medical workers, or essential service workers at pharmacies, grocery stores, e-commerce/shipping companies, etc. I recognize your efforts and I know it’s not easy being out there. I hope that some, if not all, of these tips, can be useful to you.
As a second disclaimer, I do not claim to be an expert. Just sharing and drawing from my experiences as a therapist-in-training (counselling student) and as an everyday human 🙂
Without further ado…
When you feel anxiety peaking, practice deep breathing exercises.
If your anxiety is on the rise, practice deep breathing to relieve it.
Here’s a good video I found online that can help you release your anxiety.
It’s from the app Headspace, which is currently offering free meditation for COVID19.
Do grounding techniques.
In times when we are anxious, “grounding techniques” are mental affirmations and focussing exercises that help us “ground” ourselves in our reality. Sometimes, when we’re really anxious, we get out-of-body experiences and feel dazed. We focus on what’s heightening our stresses. Grounding will help to bring you back to a rational, calm state-of-mind.
If you are experiencing unwanted memories or thoughts, grounding can really help!
Try the 5-4-3-2-1 method
Counting down backwards from 5, use your senses to list things you notice around you. List things you hear, see, touch, smell, and taste. If it helps, and if weather permits, get outside your home (maybe your backyard or your balcony for some fresh air).
Think about things in categories
Name things in your head… or on a piece of paper, in a category.
Ice cream flavours.
Actors you admire.
Things you want to do.
By focussing on other things, you feel lighter and more happy.
Do some journalling.
Just scribble down all your thoughts without needing to overthink what you’re writing about (after all, no one is going to read it). Get them out of your system. Journaling can be really cathartic, and it can also help you process more of what you are experiencing and understand it.
Talk things out.
If you have a therapist, spouse, pastor, accountability partner, best friend, or other spiritual leader/mentor that you trust, go to them and share your worries or fears.
It’s not good to internalize and keep negativity inside — it’ll fester otherwise.
Share what you’re feeling in a safe space with safe people.
People who are safe are:
- Empathetic listeners
- Affirming in response
For my fellow Canadians, see this great resource:
If you’re struggling to be productive, attend virtual co-working sessions.
Comfy clothes, encouraged. People ready to get things done, encouraged.
This is a good idea for anyone who is an extrovert, or needs to be around people (or to have human interaction) in order to get work done. But hey, I’m an introvert, and I find these work sessions to be incredibly helpful as well. I believe it’s the accountability factor so I’m not slacking off and just watching Netflix or baking instead (putting the pro in procrastinating…).
If you’re a female entrepreneur or freelancer, Toronto’s Make Lemonade co-working office for women who freelance/own their own business is hosting daily weekday work sessions at noon every day over Zoom. Sign up here and get the daily invite to join the girl gang!*
If you’re in school (high school, college, graduate, etc.), arrange virtual co-working sessions with your classmates. You can host them over Google Meets, Zoom, or UberConference for free!
Use this time to do or enjoy something you love. Do it purely for enjoyment.
It can be a hobby that you love or you find joy in.
Whether it’s reading, painting, crocheting, doing DIY projects, baking…
Don’t put pressure on yourself to turn your hobby into a side hustle.
This pressure to be super productive during this time? Unnecessary.
If you happen to improve your skills, that’s great. If you do currently run a business (or have already wanted to start one), and use this time to do build your biz, all power to you.
BUT — no one needs to feel the pressure to do so.
So don’t bake a cake because you need to perfect your piping technique…
Bake a cake, because you want to bake a cake. Ok?
Take the time to read!
Reading is such an underrated activity (and one of my favourite hobbies). It’s a good way to immerse yourself in a story (if you’re reading a fictional novel) or to learn something new if you are reading a faith-related, business, interest-based, self-help, etc., type of book. It grooms your mind to be imaginative and it’s not as mind-numbing as Netflixing all day (not that a few movies or shows are going to hurt anyone during this quarantine, but moderation, people).
Look for opportunities to serve others, like grabbing groceries for those who should stay inside.
Are you an able-bodied individual that can help others or family members who are elderly or immunocompromised in your community get supplies or groceries?
Offer your assistance.
If you are able to, find ways to bless others. We all have the power to be useful and helpful to others at this time. I’ve heard stories of a lot of human selfishness during this time (toilet paper and aisles cleared out in retail stores). But… I also have hope because I’ve seen kind acts all around, too.
One thing to remember is that we are literally living in history.
What’s happening now is going to go down in history. No doubt about it.
I don’t think anyone expected this when we wanted “big things for 2020”, but life is unexpected as we’ve come to see. And, as cliche as the saying goes, we need to make the most of it. If life hands you lemons, make the most of a sour situation and go.make.lemonade.
Here are some other ideas:
- Can you cook or bake? Make some homemade baked goods or delicious dishes and drop them off to a friend as a good pick-me-up! It’s a nice gesture.
- Like to encourage people? Write some words of affirmations from cards and mail them out. Personally, I love to get encouragement cards from the Etsy marketplace.
- Treat your immunocompromised/ageing parents, grandparents, friend, colleague, or family in need of a HelloFresh subscription so they don’t need to grocery shop. It’s a great door-to-door delivery service for groceries and perfectly prepped portions for meals. Ideal for households of 2+ or more, or for anyone requiring meal prep.
- Are you financially able to give? Donate money to shelters or buy gift cards that the homeless and homeless shelter relief workers can use during this time to get warm food and clothing for those who are impacted by their experience of street poverty.
- Are you able to sew or willing to learn? Hospitals and other medical centres need personal protective equipment (PPE -hospital gowns, and masks) — if you can sew, you can help. Homeless shelters and the workers there are also in need of assistance.
Hopefully, we can be remembered as a generation that cared for one another at this time.
Also, helping others can really lift your own spirits and it’s a good neighbourly thing to do.
In the Bible, I’m reminded about how Christ calls us to love others (Mark 12:31). This is a prime time to live that out. Love your neighbours, friends. It’s times like these (a pandemic), that in which we’re all in the same boat that we realize we need to be there for and help one another.
Hang out with close friends, family members or loved ones online.
… Whatever that looks like to you.
Utilize platforms like Zoom, FaceTime, Google Duo, Google Meets, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Discord to chat with and hang out with friends via video calls, voice calls or text chats. Watch movies on Netflix or Disney Plus, etc. together, via screen-share.
- Do virtual “dinners” — cook your own food & catch up!
- Call your grandparents/parents/relatives!
- FaceTime your little cousins… Read to them!
- Play games online together with
Here are some suggestions for online games:
Take time to recharge, rejuvenate, and rest your spirit, body, and mind.
If you needed a reminder to drink water and stretch, then here is your reminder to drink water AND stretch. Physical wellness is very much linked to psychological wellness.
In a culture that’s so busy-oriented, it is actually GOOD to slow down. Sometimes, our body and mind is so tired and is constantly demanding for us to rest (usually when we get sick, that’s a sign we need to rest). So, make sure you’re doing that: Resting. Your body, mind, and spirit.
And on top of that, taking care of your physical wellbeing too.
It doesn’t have to be anything intense, it can be as simple as going for a walk or doing stretches.
Reflection question: What are you doing during this quarantine to take care of yourself and others?
Lack of self-awareness and lack of self-care can be problematic, so make sure you are taking care of yourself. Remember, you can’t light people’s fires if your own fire is out. Hopefully, this time in quarantine can help you to look within and facilitate a period of growth and desire to reach out!
Comment below and share!
P.S. If you liked this post, I’d love it if you hit the social media share buttons (and pin this on Pinterest) to share these tips with others and hopefully inspire them in some way.
Stay safe, stay inside!