As a result of the lockdown, many Canadians have now been forced out of the work. If you have lost your income due to COVID-19, and are in need of financial assistance, please see our previous post, Financial Assistance: Benefits to Get Through Coronavirus. Indeed, the economic fallout from COVID-19 and the corresponding lockdown is well-documented, and dominates the media narrative. However, perhaps equally important, and yet receiving far less attention, is the impact of the lockdown on our mental health.
Tips for Maintaining Your Mental Health
Humans are generally social beings. As members of a functioning society, we need healthy physical and social interaction with others. While the loss of income can cause stress and anxiety for some, the lockdown and extreme social isolation can also wreak havoc on the mental health of many others who have not been financially affected.
Mental health experts caution us that the economic lockdown, coupled with the social isolation of the pandemic, could take a significant toll on our collective mental health. What can you do?
To protect your own mental health, experts recommend the following:
1. Try to eat and sleep well, and exercise regularly.
Most mental health professionals agree that a healthy, balanced diet, and a regular schedule of a good night’s sleep, are both essential for maintaining good mental health. Further, exercise, and in particular aerobic exercise such as a bike ride, brisk walk or a jog, is great for the body and the brain.
2. Try to stay socially connected, even if you can’t see others in person.
Most of us value a strong support system – a network of friends, family, and colleagues that we can trust and confide in, and turn to in times of need, or for guidance and support. Although we are currently working with physical distancing guidelines, it’s still important to stay emotionally connected to others, as a strong support system can function as a safety net when times are tough.
3. Limit news and social media.
The news, commentary, and social media we see on a daily basis has a very powerful effect on shaping our thinking, our emotions, and our behaviours. Of course, these days, the news and much of social media as well, is dominated by the coronavirus pandemic. While it’s important to stay up to date on important issues such as health guidelines or travel restrictions, many mental health experts say that over-consumption, and an endless stream of news, can add significantly increase your levels of stress and anxiety. Try to find a healthy balance of being informed while not becoming overwhelmed.
Mental Health and Emotional Support – Help is Available
According to psychiatrist Dr. Sabeena Chopra in Toronto, “Our basic premise for mental health is feeling safe and secure. Now, we’re facing such uncertainty – about our physical health, the health of our loved ones, our jobs, our housing.”
The COVID-19 pandemic, and accompanying lockdown, has drastically reduced both our level and frequency of social interaction with others. And those levels of social isolation can lead to a range of mental health issues. “For some people, there is sometimes a great degree of social isolation even at baseline,” she says, “but now we’re all experiencing it, in a way we never have before,” says Dr. Chopra.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has an abundance of information about the physical symptoms of COVID-19, such as videos, fact sheets, and infographics about how we can protect ourselves from the physical threats of the virus, such as wearing face masks, practicing safe social distancing, etc. Sadly, the Public Health Agency of Canada offers virtually no information whatsoever to help Canadians manage their mental health risks, and resources available to offer help and support.
If you might be in need of mental health and emotional support, please consider the following resources:
Mental health counselling
eMentalHealth.ca provides anonymous, confidential and trustworthy information, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Features include: mental health help (i.e. directory of mental health services and organizations), info sheets, screening tools, and more.
Crisis Services Canada provides suicide prevention and support to the people of Canada, and includes a national network of existing distress, crisis and suicide prevention line services.
Kids at risk
Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone is a service partnership between Kids Help Phone and U.S.-based crisis line and technology pioneer Crisis Text Line, providing young people in Canada with the first ever, 24/7, free nationwide texting service.
The Government of Canada maintains a list of resources available to help anyone in need of help regarding substance use or abuse. Most resources are available 24 hours per day.
ShelterSafe is an online resource to help women and their children seeking safety from violence and abuse. The clickable map will serve as a fast resource to connect women with the nearest shelter that can offer safety, hope and support.
Maintaining proper mental health is key to financial health as well. After all, a sound basis for making good financial decisions starts with a healthy mind. If you have any questions about your financial plans or your investment portfolio, please contact us to have a discussion with a Portfolio Manager or Certified Financial Planner.