Psychological Well being and COVID-19: Discovering Your Calm In The Storm
With a pandemic, social unrest, political division, and environmental disaster dominating the headlines, we all want to find the scraps of good news in our news feeds. But logging in every day to read harrowing statistics and worrying stories can be overwhelming and does not harm our sanity. We have to ask ourselves: How do we control the intake of endless information and maintain our spiritual well-being?
A difficult year
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in five Canadians will personally suffer from a mental health problem in any given year. In a survey released in May 2020, Canadians reported feeling stressed either regularly or constantly, compared to a month before the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada. COVID-19 has proven to be a major source of stress, causing insecurity in the workplace, waiting for a safe vaccine, and worrying about the health of loved ones and ourselves.
The 24/7 news cycle doesn’t help anywhere in North America. A recent study by the American Psychological Association found that news consumption had a negative impact on mental health for many people. Time Magazine reported that half of Americans admit the news causes stress, which makes them lose sleep and become anxious. At a time when we are always staring at our screens, it’s hard not to stumble upon the latest alarming headlines. Yes, it is important to stay informed about the state of the world. But can we develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with it?
Dealing with your children
Recently, many families across Canada have been sending their children back to school. This is another source of stress as parents need to educate their children about the importance of wearing face masks, keeping a safe distance from their classmates, and overall health and safety. This could be a critical time for children. About 70 percent of mental health problems occur in childhood or adolescence. That is why we need to help the little ones through these difficult times.
Explaining a pandemic to your children is not an easy thing. Fear Canada reports that it is best to have an open dialogue. Answer their questions, and don’t be afraid to admit that you might be a little concerned too. It is also important to tell them what is fact and what is fiction. A McGill University study recently reported that those who use social media (which your kids probably enjoy doing) are more likely to believe that false information has been found online, including conspiracy theories, misleading statistics, and false claims about treating the virus. With your little one, learn how to spot fake or real news, and which resources provide information that isn’t based on fear-based headlines.
Take some time for yourself
Saying it is one thing. But when the weight in the world feels too much, consider coping methods just for you. More popular than ever, meditation leads to a relaxed state of mind, removes accumulated stress, increases energy, and improves health. Other easy ways to quickly relieve stress include drinking herbal teas, listening to music, exercising, playing with a pet, or talking to a friend. Avoid tempting but negative coping methods like drinking alcohol, smoking, trying risky activities, and isolating yourself from others. Another easy solution? Turn off your cell phone. While it may seem difficult, turn it off, put it in a drawer, and spend a few hours unconnected to the news.
As 2020 approaches an uncertain destination, we must accept some hard truths. We don’t know when the age of COVID-19 will be over, or if life will ever return to our personal definition of “normal”. We cannot control the future, but we can control our actions and how we react to the world around us. Stay tuned, but make your overall health a priority. There’s no shame in taking a step back, blocking out the outside noise and putting yourself and your family at the center.