Feeling anxious and stressed about COVID-19 and how it will affect your life is a natural reaction. Human beings like certainty – we’re hard-wired to want to know what’s happening and to notice things that feel threatening to us. 

Most of us have never had to deal with uncertainty on this scale before. The unknown elements of the COVID-19 virus can increase anxiety. 

You might feel more on edge than usual. Maybe you’re feeling angry, helpless or sad. You might notice that you’re more frustrated with others or want to completely avoid any news or reminders of what’s happening. For those  who already struggle with  mental wellness, the pandemic might increase feelings of depressions and decrease our motivation to carry out daily activities.

It’s important to remember we’re not helpless in light of current events. We can still choose how to respond. Here are some things you can do to take care of your mental health in the face of uncertainty:

Feeling scared? Look for the facts

The more you know about coronavirus, the more proactive steps you can take to minimize the risk of catching it. Seek out accurate information from credible sources. Try to avoid misinformation that can amplify your fear and panic.

Look for objective, research-based sources of health information, including the World Health Organization and the Public Health Agency of Canada (or your regional public health authority).

Focus on what you can control

It’s helpful to focus on what you can do to protect yourself, like washing your hands, taking your vitamins and limiting your consumption of news.

Get some exercise 

Go for a walk in your neighborhood (adhering to current government safety guidelines). If the sun is shining, you will get your daily dose of vitamin D and fresh air.

Exercise also helps both your physical and mental health – and if you’re looking for a more intense workout, the GoodLife Fitness Blog features many different at home workout options, or you can visit a GoodLife club if they’re open in your province.

Take time to rest – your body and your mind

It sounds obvious, but making sure that you get adequate sleep will help you to manage stress. Take a look at your sleep hygiene and develop a bedtime routine.

Consider practicing mindfulness as a coronavirus stress and anxiety strategy. Challenge yourself to stay in the present – when you find yourself worrying about something that hasn’t happened, gently bring yourself back to the present moment.

Notice the sights, sounds, tastes and other sensory experiences in your present situation and name them. Engaging in mindfulness activities is one way to help stay grounded when things feel beyond your control.

Stay connected

Stay connected with family, friends and support networks. It’s easy to withdraw from others and shut down when you feel stressed.

It’s possible to remain connected digitally if you find yourself in a lockdown, quarantined or working from home. Speak to friends and family using video calling apps or phone calls to manage feelings of isolation.

Talk to trusted friends about what you are feeling – and if you’re feeling particularly anxious or if you are struggling with your mental health, it’s OK to reach out to a mental health professional for support. Your family physician may also now be offering telehealth services.

You don’t have to be alone with your worry and it can be comforting to share what you’re experiencing with those trained to help.

Be kind to yourself and others

Recognize that everyone is impacted by this pandemic. It’s disappointing if your trip gets cancelled. It is awful if your kids can't go to school. It is horrible if you can't work. 

But remember, everyone is affected in some way by this pandemic so it’s more important than ever to be good to one another, to recognize that it's not just you who is suffering. Remember, the best cure for any disappointment or disaster is to be grateful for what you still have and to find ways to help others.