1. SOCIAL MEDIA AND NEWS INTAKE
COVID-19 and its related news are understandably the leading stories in news outlets and social media channels. Its impact is felt by all to varying degrees, and there’s a strong desire to keep on top of the latest developments.
However, when this is the majority of information we take in on a daily basis, it can cause mental distress. As the perception of threat increases, so do our bodily responses, including anxiety and worry.
Instead, Anxiety Canada recommends you try and limit how often you intake news about the pandemic (or any major news story) so that you can keep yourself informed while still maintaining your mental health. Commit to only checking in a couple times per day, set times to check in, disable news alerts, or rely on family and friends to provide major updates.
2. LACK OF SLEEP
We’ve all heard it before — sleep is important. It’s a tale backed by science, as it allows your brain to focus on important body responses, form new pathways for learning, remembering, and processing information, and rebuild your energy for the next day.
Lack of sleep is linked with a number of chronic diseases and conditions, including depression. This can become a cycle as lack of sleep creates stress during the day, which in turn contributes to further sleep troubles.
Try to commit to a consistent bedtime routine and minimize caffeine, watching TV or using the computer before bed.
When you are stressed, your body responds as though you are in danger. It makes hormones speed up your heart, you breathe faster and you can experience sporadic bursts of energy.
Some stress is normal, however if stress happens too often or lasts too long, it can cause health problems.
It’s important to have positive coping responses to stress at the ready, as some strategies are not as helpful as others and some of our go-to supports — like social connection and routine — have been disrupted during the pandemic.
Positive responses include: listening to music, laughing or crying, taking a bath or showering, going out with a friend, doing creative activities, and many more.
4. INJURIES AND CONCUSSIONS
The connection between concussions and mental health is often overlooked. An estimated 25 per cent of mild traumatic brain injury patients develop a mental health condition such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder within three months of injury.
Concussions can be destructive, affecting the ways your body functions: your thinking, your emotions, your sleep. You may feel confused, have trouble remembering things, or generally feel sluggish and tired. Suddenly you can feel more emotional, sad, irritable, nervous or anxious. And it can directly impact your sleep, leading you to either have too little, too much, or none at all.
Receiving a diagnosis and treatment plan can greatly help patients recover. Seek help if you suspect you are suffering from this condition. Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) has created a concussion guide for adults to help you get started.
No one is perfect. We’re all facing our own challenges in our unique and nuanced ways during this global pandemic. Do what you can, and if you find yourself in need of a little more help, then try accessing some of the resources above.
This has been a challenging time, and it’s essential not to neglect your mental health. So please, take care. If you find yourself in need of additional support, click here to see our list of mental health resources