The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented era of adjustment and isolation. Our plans have changed. Our favourite businesses are closed. Some of our family members are ill. During this time, it is more important than ever to check in on yourself. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself emotionally. Here are three tips to help your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic:
1. Be aware that help is still available
As everyone knows, many businesses and services have closed temporarily. However, there is still help available! Please don’t feel abandoned! UVic Counselling Services is offering support over the phone. Vancouver Island Crisis Line is still operational. Many local counselling services have adapted to use video calls. You still have options and there is no shame in asking for professional help if you are experiencing distress. To the right, I have included a list of local resources including help lines, addiction centres, apps, and support services. This list was created by the Mental Health Society of Greater Victoria.
2. Focus on your personal priorities.
Now, I’m not talking about your academic or career goals. I’m talking about your personal priorities. What do you value at your core? As university students, we often feel like our worth and priorities must directly relate to academic achievement or career prospects. But once you take that away, what’s left? For me, my number one personal priority is supporting and empowering others. My second most important priority is learning about a broad range of topics.
Once you’ve narrowed down your top personal priorities, think about how you can put them into practice, even while isolated. Technology can often be used for this purpose. Fortunately, I can connect with my friends and loved ones using Skype or phone calls. A few people in my life have been struggling emotionally. I have tried to extend my support to them remotely. As for learning, I have been trying to inform myself on new subjects. During the academic semester, I don’t have much time to explore topics outside of my major and extracurricular activities. Now I am trying to take advantage of this time by reading articles from other fields and watching informative documentaries. There are infinite learning opportunities out there!
If you’re not sure what your personal priorities are, that’s okay! If might help to ask yourself a few questions. Why are you on this trajectory? Why do you have the goals that you have? If you could make one impact, what would it be? Why do you think that impact is important? By answering these questions, you might learn more about yourself and your core personal priorities. Some examples are below:
- Developing your skills in…
- Creating art
- Practicing spirituality or prayer
- Teaching others
- Have you thought about offering lessons over skype? Some people also use Youtube as a platform to teach remotely.
- Saving lives
- This can be done by showing support for others. Unfortunately, suicide is one of the leading causes of death among young people in Canada.
6. Encouraging others to express themselves
- This can be done remotely by connecting with others having judgement-free conversations.
- This one is difficult in isolation. However, you can research and plan your next trip! This is a great way to give yourself something to look forward to!
3. Take a breath and don’t beat yourself up
Lastly, slow down! This is an unprecedented time. It’s okay if today didn’t go according to plan. It’s okay if you didn’t complete everything on your To Do list. For some, a triumph is when they demonstrate extreme productivity. For others, a triumph is getting through the day. No matter what, be kind to yourself and meet yourself where you’re at. You’re doing great.