As Canada pushes through this second wave of COVID-19, many of us may be feeling the psychological toll of this relentless pandemic. So much so that the federal government has been investing in a number of support programs to protect our mental health. And psychologists have long been warning about the effects this winter could have on what has already been a tough year for many Canadians.
Mental stress can often impact our physical bodies. Anxiety over relationships and job insecurity, for example, can cause muscle fatigue and chronic pain. That’s why our physical health must be addressed at the same time. So here are some tips and reminders to help you endure this pandemic during the long, winter months ahead.
Interact with nature
Even if your region is under lockdown, that doesn’t mean the beauty of nature is out of reach. In fact, getting some fresh air on your balcony or in the backyard can be enough to reinvigorate the senses. Feeling that cool breeze or ray of sunshine will help you see that the rest of the world still exists, despite pandemic rules currently in place.
If a winter hike or tobogganing isn’t an option, look for everyday opportunities to be outdoors:
- Shoveling the driveway
- Walking to the store
- Quick coffee on the porch
Immersing yourself in nature doesn’t have to be some grand activity. Simply stepping outside (or even sitting near a window) can be enough to help you recharge.
Create meaningful distractions
Canada’s top doctor has a blunt message for Canadians: Keep holiday gatherings to your household contacts only. So whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or even Kwanzaa, the holidays will certainly look different this year. That means the winter distractions we once had, such as going out to shop for gifts or preparing big feasts, are now irrelevant.
So use this rare occasion to create space for other meaningful activities. Who knows, you may even come to realize that all the holiday commotion from previous years was frivolous and fleeting. Being intentional about how you spend your time this winter can help reshape your thinking. So distract yourself with new hobbies and connections that bring joy and purpose to your life.
Not surprisingly, a recent survey finds that many Canadians have been gaining weight this past year. Although socializing has been out of the question, the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified our issues around food. This latest poll suggests Canadians have been eating excessively to deal with pandemic-related anxieties.
The good news is there are many nutritional strategies to help ease mental anguish. During this difficult time, enhance your diet with foods that are rich in antioxidants:
- Beans -- Pinto, black, red kidney
- Berries -- Strawberries, blackberries, cranberries
- Vegetables -- Kale, spinach, broccoli, artichokes
- Nuts -- Pecans, walnuts
Although it may be tempting in a pinch, try to avoid processed foods and sugary snacks. Always opt for whole foods instead.
Gyms and fitness classes in your area may be closed. But that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate a bit of physical activity into your daily routine. You may feel there’s little room for exercise as we juggle family obligations while working from home. But there are always opportunities to add some movement to your everyday activities.
Aside from taking a walk outdoors, you can also squeeze in a workout while doing household chores. Vacuuming, for example, can help strengthen your triceps and lateral muscles. For an added sweat, try moving furniture out of the way, including couches, desks and even dressers. Washing your car, shovelling the driveway or cleaning out the garage can also burn calories and boost your energy.
Seek professional care
Whether you’re dealing with mental anxiety or chronic back pain, we could all use some expert guidance along the way. Despite lockdown measures in many regions, health clinics remain open as an essential service.
From physiotherapists to psychotherapists, a number of healthcare professionals are available to help you navigate this challenging period. A lot of stress can stem from a lack of human connection, which is why it can be so beneficial to see a knowledgeable expert. If you’re not comfortable however with in-person visits, ask if virtual sessions are available.
Physiomed is constantly updating its COVID-19 policies to ensure the health and safety of our patients. As parts of Ontario endure another lockdown, we’re proud to continue offering virtual care (in addition to our in-person visits).
As we all navigate this second wave of COVID-19, remember that you’re not alone. Our team is always available to help address your physical and mental concerns in a caring and compassionate setting.
For more information on improving your physical and mental well-being or to book an assessment, contact us here.