This season of life is challenging for the average person. For anyone in an abusive situation, it becomes dangerous, with the risk of violence increasing during the pandemic when people are isolated and locked in their homes.
While everyone will experience this time differently, a generalized sense of anxiety and uncertainty is floating through the air. Some people may be quarantined with their family or small children, while others will be entirely alone. In some situations, women and children will be stuck at home with their abusive partner. Shelters and women’s advocacy centres are working at maximum capacities in many cities, with some also lacking resources and support. Feelings of fear and loneliness can be common.
Wherever you are during this time, we hope you have or can obtain the support needed. Today we are sharing ways that may help you to stay mentally healthy throughout this time of pandemic. Whether you’re caring for yourself or also for others, your mental health matters.
Practice Self-Care - First, make time to look after yourself, both physically and mentally. This time can be stressful and anxiety provoking, but avoid putting your own health on the back burner. Try to stick to a routine, even if it is as simple as a walk around the block. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are still important. Staying physically healthy will help you deal with any mental stress or anxiety. Don’t forget to be gentle with yourself during this time. There’s no need to start up a rigorous beach body program - just make time to move your body for 30 minutes any day - walking, yoga, gardening are all great low-impact options. There are plenty of free videos online if you’re up for trying out something new like yoga or meditation. Don’t forget to “check in” with yourself regularly.
Be Realistic - Sure, social media show us people becoming novice bread makers or taking up new hobbies, but that doesn’t mean you need to as well. Having a shower and eating a healthy meal may be all one person can accomplish some days, and that is more than okay. Be easy on yourself and don’t expect to become a master baker during this time. If you’re struggling, put your time and energy into simple activities that you enjoy, and don’t forget to get enough sleep.
Focus on Things That Make You Happy - Pick a few things you can do during this time that make you happy - if you have a yard, maybe you like to dig in the dirt? Or perhaps you find meditation helpful. Maybe it’s time to finally attempt one of those puzzles or tackle some reading? Biking or running may be up your ally, or maybe just playing in the yard or home with your kids. Decide what brings you peace and contentment and focus on those.
Ask for Help - Right now, there are many people that need help - from elderly people who can’t easily get groceries, to healthcare workers who are burnt out. When others needs seem so significant, you may shy away from asking for help, but please don’t be afraid to reach out. Accept help from those who are able to assist. It may be having groceries or other necessities dropped off, a listening ear over the telephone, a Zoom “get together” with a friend or family member, or a telephone call with a counsellor. Any difficult feelings you experience right now, such as sadness, fear, anxiety or anger, are valid and you are allowed to experience these. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it.
Whether it’s a phone call, a physical hangout with some in your social isolation circle, or an online hangout, surround yourself with people who lift you up and support you. Your well-being is important. Together, we will get through this.
If you’re seeking safety from a harmful situation, please reach out to your local Violence Against Women Shelter by visiting sheltersafe.ca or call 911 if you’re in immediate danger. Shelters remain available to provide security and support.
To talk with someone immediately about your safety needs and safety planning you can also contact confidential and anonymous provincial crisis lines.