Taking care of yourself and others during Mental Health Week

Seven tips to stay connected with others — and yourself — in these isolating times

When it comes to mental health and wellbeing, everyone needs help sometimes. As we continue to face the uncertainty and challenges presented by the COVID-19 crisis, we need to take the time to take care of ourselves and others.

This week is Mental Health Week in Canada (May 4-10, 2020), and this year’s theme presented by the Canadian Mental Health Association is “social connection,” more important now that we’re self-isolating at home.

As an immigrant or refugee family, connecting with others may be more challenging for you. You may not have a wide support network in Canada. Language and cultural stigma around mental health services may be a barrier to your wellbeing. You may not know where to turn.

“Please know that you’re not alone. If you’re feeling scared, anxious or depressed, we can help you connect to people and resources to help you get through these difficult times,” says Purn Disanjh, Manager, Counselling Services at DIVERSEcity. “We’re in this together, and we can support you, often in your first language, to make sure you feel connected and strong.”

Here are seven tips to stay connected with others — and yourself — in these isolating times.

1. Take care of yourself. We are all feeling anxious and nervous about what’s going to happen. While many of us are supporting our children and other family members at home, it’s important to practise self-care as well. What do you enjoy doing that boosts your mood? Yoga? Baking? Reading? Painting? Listening to music? Make the time to do it. Even schedule it into your day.

2. Enjoy family time. While we may be self-isolating at home with our kids and spouses, don’t let your time together focus only on homework, work and household chores. Set aside time at home where you just talk about fun things, play games or watch movies. It’s important for everyone, including kids, to have this social connection time.

3. Connect with others — virtually. Even while physical distancing, make the effort to maintain social connection. Pick up the phone and call your mom. Skype with family from back home. Plan a Zoom party with your friends. Join a virtual class or community. There are many things happening in the online world now, more so than ever.

4. Know that it’s OK to be vulnerable. While we’re all trying to stay strong, it’s OK to express your uncertainty or fears. Share your feelings with your spouse or other trusted adult. You can also reach out to counselling services by phone or online if you need additional support.

5. Be kind and patient with others. We’re all in this together, but we’re all a little on edge. If you see someone struggling, reach out to tell them they’re not alone. If you are a parent, be patient with your kids as they are also feeling scared and may act out. Listen to them and help them by talking, playing and giving attention.

6. Get proper exercise, rest and nutrition. This all helps boost your mood and mental health. Go for a walk to get some fresh air. There are also many virtual fitness classes being shared on social media these days. Drink water. Eat well. And get a good night’s sleep. This sounds simple, but sometimes simple strategies really are the most effective.

7. Practise gratitude. It’s not always easy to find the good in bad situations. But at times like these, it’s important to find positive things in your day. Is your family healthy? Do you have food on the table? Start there. Find some humour and lightness in each day, while limiting your exposure to negative influences, such as the 24/7 COVID-19 news coverage. And, if you have the ability, reach out to help others in your community. Helping others gives us a sense of purpose and positivity.

Need someone to talk to? DIVERSEcity’s counselling programs are offered with culturally informed practices in first languages such as Punjabi, Arabic, Hindi, Farsi, Mandarin, Cantonese and Spanish. Email or call 604-547-1202.