Taking care of your mental health during social distancing and self-isolation

March 18, 2020

As the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic continues to unfold and new information is released so fast that it feels hard to keep up, it’s important to take a step back and focus on what you can control to best support you and your family’s mental health.

To help prevent the spread of the virus and protect the health and wellbeing of the most vulnerable in our community, government and global health officials are putting a strong emphasis on the importance of social distancing and self-isolation. However, social distancing and self-isolation does not have to mean social disconnect. In fact, staying connected to family and friends, staying active, and finding ways to deal with stress are ways to take care of your mental health during times of uncertainty.

Stay connected and maintain your social networks

Mom and young daugter on tablet using video chat

Technology is a great way to keep connected to family or friends. Send that email you’ve been putting off, reconnect with that old friend you’ve been meaning to reach out to, or just pick up the phone (or video chat!) and reach out to those you care about, especially to those who may be more vulnerable or lonely during this time.

Follow your usual routine as much as possible

Mother and daughter in the kitchen making a salad together

Even with so much disruption to your daily routine, try sticking to your regular schedule as much as you can. Keep up with your normal sleep routines, eat regular meals, and try to plan out your daily tasks. Keeping to a routine and a sense of normalcy is also important for children. Check out this resource from The World Health Organization for helping children cope with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Try to stay active

older man and woman doing yoga together

While it may be tempting to pass the day by binging on the latest Netflix release or scrolling through Facebook for hours, it’s important to keep your body moving. Try going for a walk, start your spring cleaning around your home, or try out an at-home exercise workout—YouTube has lots of great videos for all fitness levels!

Get as much sunlight, fresh air and nature as you can

Young man walking his dog on a trail

Getting fresh air and some sunshine are all proven ways to boost your mood. Open the windows, spend some time outside, or even get a head start on your spring yard work.

Find ways to keep busy

woman organizing her clothing drawers

Now is a great time to tackle those tasks that you’ve been putting off. Try de-cluttering closets and drawers, organize family photos or find some new recipe ideas you’d like to try.

Keep your mind stimulated

Family of four playing a board game together

While keeping your body moving is important, so is keeping your mind active. Crack open a new book (or an old favourite!), catch up on podcasts, or dust off a puzzle or board game and have a family game night.

Find ways to be creative

Older man painting on a canvas and easel

Tapping into your creative side is always good for your mental wellbeing. Try some do-it-yourself projects, painting and craft projects, writing a journal, listening to music, or starting an online-learning opportunity through your local library.

Set limits on your media consumption

remote control pointed at a TV that is off

It’s important to stay informed with facts from reputable sources, but it’s important not to overwhelm yourself with anxiety-provoking news. Set a limit to your media consumption if it is causing you increased anxiety and worry. For a great resource, check out the Coping with Stress infographic from the WHO (World Health Organization).

Seek additional help when needed

Young man sitting on the couch talking on the phone

If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed, please reach out. You can find information and resources at:

Guelph/Wellington: Here 24/7 https://here247.ca/

Dufferin County: 24/7 Crisis Support; https://cmhapeeldufferin.ca/

Lindsay Cline, Health Promotions Specialist and Jessica Anselmini, Communications Specialist