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Coping with the new normal: Mental health tips for the new phase of COVID-19

Anyone can experience mental or emotional health problems. One in five Canadians will have a mental-health or substance-use problem over their lifetime and times of stress—like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic—can make things worse.
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Now that we're adapting to our new normal and moving into Phase 3 of the COVID-19 recovery plan, many of us are feeling relieved that some areas of our lives are opening up again. However, that doesn't mean that feelings of worry or anxiety will disappear, and some people may find that they are developing new concerns as things continue to change and remain uncertain.

To help you combat this, we've compiled the following tips on looking after your mental health:

1. Make social connections

Nothing beats the positive impact of spending quality time with the people you care for, especially during stressful times. After a long time of connecting via phone or video chat, we now have more opportunities to check in on loved ones face-to-face. If you're feeling anxious about being too physically close to people in public, maybe go for a socially distanced walk in the park or hang out in a friend's backyard.

2. Stay active outdoors

Staying active is as good for the brain as it is for the body. Regular exercise or activity can have a major impact on your mental and emotional health, relieve stress, improve memory, and help you sleep better. Now that we are entering Phase 3, take advantage of increased opportunities to get outdoors and stretch your legs safely.

Leisure and exercise are great for emotional and mental health. Take some time to relax, contemplate, and pay attention to things as you move around outside. Record positive thoughts or experiences if you can, because they can be easy to forget. Then you can reflect on them later if your mood is in need of a boost. 

3. Take up a relaxation practice

Yoga, mindfulness, meditation and deep breathing can help reduce overall levels of stress. The Breathr App from Kelty Mental Health is a good resource to get started on mindfulness meditation.

4. Continue to get the news from reliable sources

COVID-19 continues to dominate the news and social media, and many people are likely to feel fatigued and burnt out from the constant updates and bad news. As well as being mentally draining, this puts you at risk of seeing false information. A better way to stay informed is by checking out credible sources every so often for updates. Some reliable sources include: 

Remember, the information absorb can affect how we feel. We should monitor what we read with care.

5. Using substances

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, we have seen a heartbreaking increase in the number of overdoses and overdose deaths linked to an increase in drug toxicity. Although work is still in progress to determine the reasons behind this increase, the dramatic changes to society as the result of COVID-19 may play a role. If you are using substances, don't forget to buddy up and employ other harm reduction techniques. You can find out more harm reduction and overdose response tips during the COVID-19 pandemic on the BCCDC website.

6. Staying in recovery

To stay in recovery ensure you continue to identify high-risk situations that may put you most at risk for using, such as spending time around others who are using. If you usually feel triggered by stress, try the self-care activities outlined here to manage this stress as best you can. Also, don't forget to ask for support from people around you if you're finding this time particularly challenging.

7. Where to get more help

If you or a loved one needs more mental health support, there are many programs and resources that are available to you:

 
 
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