Dealing with uncertainty and ambiguity is challenging for most of us under regular circumstances. Add a pandemic into the mix and a spike in your anxiety level is inevitable. There’s a lot of uncertainty about COVID-19, and much of that is outside your control. No amount of worrying will change that fact. That said, the positive steps you can take to cope with the uncomfortable feelings you’re experiencing are under your control.
Doctors, researchers, and essential services personnel are working hard to keep us safe and healthy, and help minimize disruptions in our daily lives. These are challenging times and it is possible that as new information about COVID-19 arises, we may have to adjust our routines. It helps to think that we are all in this together, and everyone is doing their best. Here are some tips on how to reduce the stress that can arise due to uncertainty and change.
The key to warding off loneliness is to regain a sense of control. Of course, that can be quite a challenge when COVID-19 is evolving so quickly and guidelines to deal with it keep changing.
If you find working from home more stressful than you anticipated, don’t be too hard on yourself. Lots of people are struggling, especially those who are living with kids or a partner who’s also teleworking. Here are some tips to help you cope.
Our normal workplaces provide us with structure. With that structure removed, you may find it hard to get into a proper work rhythm. And you may spend more time worrying about things you can’t control.
Working at home can be an isolating experience. You’ll need to be more deliberate about staying in touch with your friends and colleagues. In stressful times like these, it’s important to share feelings and hear friendly voices. It’s also important to find emotional support and offer it to others.
You can do things like
Look after your physical health by
Keeping tabs on your mental health is vital as well, especially if you’re prone to anxiety or depression.
By implementing tips and tricks to
Relaxation and meditation
Staying physically active
Working from home habits
When it comes to dealing with COVID-19, children or teens take their cues from their parents. One of the most important steps you can take to reassure your child is to act calmly and confidently yourself. That doesn’t mean denying that you’re anxious. It does mean showing them how to cope with anxiety, especially in the face of the uncertainty all of us are experiencing right now.
Here are some specific things you can say or do:
It’s normal to feel anxious during this pandemic. But what if you find that you’re not able to function anymore? Or friends and family say that you seem unusually worried or stressed out, even considering current circumstances?
If that’s the case, you need to reach out for support. Sometimes friends and family can help. But it may take someone with mental health expertise to provide the support you truly need. Check out the links to phone and online mental health supports below.
If you have a pre-existing mental health condition, here are some tips that the Government of Canada suggests:
Here are support resources available in Canada.
If you have access to Dialogue through your organization, you can log in to your account to connect with a healthcare professional. If you’re already logged in and are accessing this page from the Dialogue app, you can continue to access helpful information based on your needs or connect with a mental health specialist.
If you do not have access to Dialogue and need some support for you or your loved one, below are some other resources available across Canada. Given the impact that the pandemic is having on so many individuals’ mental health, their response times may be slower than usual. Additionally, you can also consider speaking to your employer about gaining access to Dialogue.
Sudden unfortunate events, such as family illness or job loss, can cause financial strain and stress for many Canadians. The COVID-19 pandemic may have gotten you worried about your ability to pay for your house, bills, and provide nutritious meals for your family. Know that you are not alone in this, and that the Canadian government and many financial institutions are providing support in this time of hardship through payment deferrals, monetary supplements, and the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
We suggest reviewing the resources below which contain guidance on financial planning during the pandemic:
Governments are also offering additional relief measures for individuals and businesses affected by COVID-19, such as:
Resources on financial support available nationally
We also invite you to consult your provincial government’s resources regarding additional financial support being offered:
Many family medicine clinics have their own way of helping their patients right now.
Providing for yourself and loved ones can be an important source of stress for many of us, and can be further amplified during these complex times. Some may be entirely new to remote working, others may have to juggle working while caring for their loved ones, and in some cases, you may find yourself at home without work. Whatever the scenario you identify with, know that you are not alone, and that we are all facing challenges and learning how to adapt.
Caring for your family and working
Navigating this period can be particularly difficult if you are sick, need to care for others, or are unable to work during this time due to COVID-19. Many provinces have therefore enacted legislations that protect employees, alleviating some of the added burden and stress that individuals may be experiencing.
Managing your workload
This challenging period may be a good opportunity to talk to your manager and prioritize the projects and tasks that you are responsible for. It will help you focus on what is truly important, minimizing time-consuming distractions, and ultimately maintaining the impact you are striving to achieve in your role.
Depending on your role, you may find yourself working remotely or having to be physically present in your workplace alongside your colleagues. While this can be anxiety-inducing for some, there are many best practices and guidelines put in place to help you stay safe and protected.
Your employer has the responsibility to provide a safe working environment, and should help accommodate employees by:
Your employer must implement clear guidelines should you develop COVID-19 symptoms.
Health professionals are stressing the importance of hand-washing and social distancing as the main preventative measures.
Wash your hands often, especially after preparing food, before eating or touching your face, and after going to the washroom. If you don’t have access to water and soap, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Wearing a mask is not recommended if you are healthy; in fact, it might contribute to a false sense of security. There is an increased risk of contamination when the mask is not worn correctly and disposed of safely. It can be used only if you are displaying symptoms and need to step outside of your home to seek medical help. It will therefore help protect others.
Keeping your household and family safe begins with these best practices:
Use any of the recommended cleaning products and disinfectants or a solution of diluted bleach (1 part bleach to 9 parts of water). Clean surfaces that are often handled by hands, such as: