Feeling stressed? How to handle the ongoing pandemic

Please visit our COVID‑19 resource page for the most current information about Red Cross programs, services and tips.

A man holding his head with mouth open in agitationFor many Canadians, probably every Canadian, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is causing some form of upset to daily life – and that may be putting it lightly for some. Add to that, repeated cycles of lockdowns and various protocols can be overwhelming, at a time when your stress levels are already higher than normal.

With so many things out of our control, what can we do about it?

There is no doubt it is a difficult time, and many of us are feeling the effects of the pandemic physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Luckily, there are ways we can help ourselves to navigate uncertain times like these.

One of the most important things we need to manage is our mental health. This is just as important as physical health, yet this aspect is often overlooked by many Canadians.

Mental health during COVID-19

It’s been a long, hard year – and it is wearing. If you’re feeling emotions such as stress, anxiety, fear, anger, sadness, and so on, know that you’re not alone. It is very common to feel such emotions in times of uncertainty. Sometimes we might feel nothing at all. While stress is normal, there are signs of extreme stress to be aware of, these include:
  • Problems sleeping
  • Body pains and muscle tension
  • Problems concentrating
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Sadness
  • Headaches
  • Fixating on the news
  • Withdrawing from others
While it’s common for us to feel these emotions, it’s less common to know what to do with them.
  1. Reach out: During this time where many feel isolated, it’s important to phone or video chat with friends and loved ones to stay connected.
  2. Start something new: Try a new hobby or practice a skill you’ve been meaning to improve. Think of activities or hobbies you enjoy or you’d like to learn; there's likely an opportunity to join others with the same interests. If not able to do so in-person right now, look into online activities such as a virtual games group, language lessons or even an online book club.
  3. Exercise: If you can, get active as physical activity increases the level of serotonin in the blood. Serotonin is the bodies feel good hormone, stabilizing your mood and making you feel happy. Find out the many benefits of exercise on your mental health.
  4. Take care of yourself: There is nothing wrong with putting your wellbeing as a priority; if you don't, who will? Self-care is extremely important to your overall health. We have online psychological first aid courses - one focusing on self-care. Learn more about how our psychological first aid courses benefitted Canadians.
  5. Ask for help: If you are struggling with continued feelings of extreme stress, can’t shake feelings of despair, anxiety or depression, please consider seeking help through your healthcare provider, family or community organization. Asking for help is a sign of strength.
For more information, download our free psychological first aid guide and visit our web page on Mental Health and Wellbeing During COVID-19 for more resources.
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