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Mental Health and Wellness During Stressful Times

Covid-19 changed our lives. The pandemic hit us unexpectedly and we are overwhelmed by the ever-changing restrictions and by the number of people getting sick. The events of the past few weeks also did not help ease our worries – the Russian invasion of Ukraine – have added to this feeling of uncertainty.

We are experiencing so many emotions, a lot of it may be fear and anxiety for not knowing what the next days would be like. What you are feeling is valid. It’s okay to not be okay. In times of high anxiety and stress, it’s more important than ever to safeguard your mental wellness – short term, long term, and throughout life

Some quick tips to reduce anxiety in the moment:

Breathe.  Move to a quiet place and concentrate on your breathing. Some find it helpful to close their eyes. Control your breathing, keep it steady and deep.  Focus on your breath. Take long slow breaths in through your nose and exhale slowly out of your mouth. Repeat as needed to begin to feel calmed.  This form of meditation helps control anxiety.

Think about it.  Remember that this feeling of anxiety is temporary.  Remind yourself that these anxious feelings will pass.  Anxiety tends to come in waves.

Think happy thoughts.  If you can calm the feelings of anxiousness, redirect your mind toward something more positive. Have a glass of water, make yourself some tea, play some music, or imagine you are someplace that brings you warmth and comfort – your happy place. Move your body. Physical movement can help reduce anxiety. If possible, go for a walk outside or simply stretch in your seat and move around the room.

Next Steps

Reflect.  Think of what caused your anxiety.  What was the trigger? Most negative thoughts are about the future and involve unfavourable predictions. 

Seek help.  It’s okay to ask for help. Meet with a trusted friend or a family member and talk about what you are feeling. Regular conversations with someone you can share your feelings with can be therapeutic. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your feelings with a friend or family member, seek outside help such as your physician or engage with a therapist.

Self-care.  There are several ways to do this.  Remember the meditation or controlled breathing exercise mentioned earlier? There are several apps that can be used to help teach you how to meditate. Practice relaxation. Reading, watching an episode of your favourite show, doing yoga, engaging in a hobby, listening to music, dancing, or going for a walk are excellent forms of relaxation. Take time for leisure and engage in pleasurable activities. Take time for you. Look up mindfulness to find out more information on self-care.

Healthy habits.  Your habits are the key investments for yourself and your mental well-being. Exercise regularly, get enough sleep, avoid excess caffeine, eat well, and get enough fluids.  Care for your body and your mind will thank you.

Disconnect.  To help keep yourself mentally healthy, try to limit the consumption of non-essential information and pare down your news consumption. Turn off your phone. Stop browsing social media. Disconnect and focus on yourself.

If these practices don’t seem to be providing the relief that you feel you need, speak to your physician about it.  Make a list of the discussion points you want to cover before your appointment.  Consulting with your physician may lead to a discussion of various medications that are available to help cope with anxiety and/or depression. 

Many anxiety medications are also used in depression – so you may have heard of some of them in the context of depression.  These include Celexa, Cymbalta, and Paxil CR to name a few.  The duration of therapy for these medications can vary as well – it will depend on your discussions with your physician.  Please do see your doctor to discuss your mental health. 

This article contains medical information provided to help you better understand this medical condition or process and may contain information about medication often used as part of a treatment plan prescribed by a doctor.  It is not intended to be used as either a diagnosis or recommendation for treatment of your medical situation.  If you are unwell, concerned about your physical or mental state, or are experiencing symptoms you should speak with your doctor or primary health care provider. If you are in medical distress, please contact emergency services (such as 911).

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