Coping with the long-term effects of the pandemic
The COVID-19 health crisis is having a profound affect on the daily lives of millions of people. The negative emotions triggered by instability have had a ripple effect on mental health, and understandably so. And although there are risks of long-term effects, most will fade as we return to normalcy.
The pandemic has led to 77% of Canadians experiencing negative emotions and 41% experiencing a decline in mental health, which although high to some, are statistically accurate percentages. Thankfully, 79% of Canadians report that they are coping fairly well with the stress of the pandemic.
Fear, stress and worry are normal in times of crisis
Individual reactions tend to vary based on personal experience.
- Trauma caused by the loss of a loved one
- Shock from losing one’s job
- Fear of catching or transmitting COVID-19, of dying or of being cut off from loved ones
- Fear of losing one's job
- Stress caused by financial strain
- Loneliness due to isolation
- Insecurity about the future
- Boredom from lack of activities (restaurant, gym, sporting and cultural events, etc.)
Distress combined with limited access to support networks has taken a toll on many Canadians’ quality of life, mental health and income, and even more so for those already afflicted by mental health issues. COVID-19 patients with lasting side effects are also expected to need psychological support.
This pandemic may have already negatively affected your daily life without you even realizing it. However, recognizing the problem is the first step in understanding your feelings and reactions, which in turn leads to better self-management and renewed mental health.
How do these problems manifest themselves?
Physically: headaches, tension, IBS, sleep difficulties, loss of appetite, decreased energy, fatigue.
Psychologically/emotionally: feelings of helplessness, stress, discouragement, insecurity, sadness, anger, pessimism.
Behaviour: difficulty concentrating, irritability, aggressiveness, crying, isolation/withdrawal, trouble making decisions, increased alcohol, drug and medication consumption.
Tips to take care of yourself
Here are some tips to help regain mental health and lessen any lingering pandemic-related effects:
- Learn to acknowledge your feelings
- Stay in touch with family and friends
- Go outside at least once a day
- Engage in daily leisure and physical activities (even if only for 15 minutes)
- Take up yoga or meditation
- Get enough sleep
- Eat healthy meals at regular times
- Cut down on pandemic news
- Cut down on social media use
- Focus on the positive
- Don’t be so hard on yourself and others
- Limit your alcohol and drug consumption
Help is out there
- Find out if your company has an employee assistance program (EAP) and use it.
- BounceBack® is a free program from the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) designed to help build skills to improve mental health. https://bounceback.cmha.ca/
- Wellness Together Canada offers free support for mental health and substance abuse. Dial 1 866 585-0445 (adults) or 1 888 668-6810 (children).
- You can always call 911 in case of emergency.
Don’t wait to ask for help. Contact a healthcare professional or your employer to find out what resources are available.