Dr. Alison Inglis, Chief Psychologist with the Upper Canada District School Board says that staying connected with others is critical to good mental health during the current period of physical distancing and school closures.
“Humans are social by nature and so people are feeling less connected right now. Social contact with people outside of our homes – whether by phone, video-chats, texting, or even letters – reminds us we’re not in this alone,” she explains.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, social connection can have enormous positive effects on mental and physical health – including reducing stress and providing people with a sense of purpose and belonging.
“Don’t just rely on your memory to reach out and connect with others during your day, schedule a time each day and stick to it,” adds Inglis.
Here are some other helpful tips for bettering your mental health
- Create and maintain a daily routine. Having regular and predictable activities in place helps maintain a sense of normality;
- Practice being kind to others. Showing kindness can help decrease stress and increase mood. Thank someone by email for their kindness, or send a message on social media.
- Make self-care a priority. Get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, and exercise daily.
- Follow the news to stay informed of what’s happening in the world but choose reputable news sources, and don’t overdo it. Remember to turn your attention to the positive stories happening around you.
- Remain focused on the factors within your control: washing hands, covering your mouth while coughing or sneezing; avoiding non-essential travel; and helping out at home.
- Accept that it’s okay to feel worried, irritable, fearful, or to have less focus some days. These are normal reactions to challenging times.
- Reach out for help from community agencies if you’re experiencing significant distress for long periods that interferes with your ability to function.
“Everyone needs a little help from time to time, so reach out if you need to. We offer information about mental health and community supports, online and through social media,” says Inglis. “You can also reach out to your local school.”
Information about student well-being and community supports for UCDSB families can be found on the UCDSB website and in our Mental Health & Wellness Virtual Library.
Learn more about mental health from the Canadian Mental Health Association, Children’s Mental Health Ontario, and School Mental Health Ontario websites. Children and youth can also visit the Kids Help Phone.