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Mental health in an ever-changing world

Illustration via ISTOCK

Over the last few years, our lives have been changed in more ways than one. The pandemic has shown us all grief, loss, and change in ways we didn’t know were possible. Some of us were forced to online school, and some of us lost jobs, people, and in some ways parts of ourselves. The world as we knew it didn’t exist anymore and underneath the COVID-19 pandemic was the mental health pandemic as I like to think of it.

According to the World Health Organization, the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a 25% increase in the prevalence of depression and anxiety around the world! Faced with uncertainty, we felt isolated, scared, sad, and maybe even angry. While the pandemic was a global event, not all our experiences may be the same. For instance, someone with mental health diagnoses who needed in-person support groups and therapy to support their healing may have experienced setbacks while others may have been experiencing anxiety and fear for the first time. Despite varying experiences, I believe the one constant from all this was the need for mental health support. The importance for us to have conversations around mental health and for us to work toward a world where there’s no stigma associated with talking about therapy and mental health.

Over the last few years, some of the ways in which we take care of ourselves may have been unavailable/changed for us. For instance, walking in the park, fitness classes, or socializing may have previously been ways of practicing self-care for us and during COVID, we may have lost access to all that. As adaptable as humans are, we turned inward and found unique ways to take care of ourselves. There were virtual classes, free and affordable mental health support, and resources available virtually and watch parties to help stay connected to loved ones! Just as we begin adjusting to a new world, with new rules and ways of living, restrictions were being lifted and there was a new normal being created.

Through these constantly changing times, it is important for us to practice self-care, in ways that work best for us as that may not always look the same for everyone. There are various ways in which we can practice self-care- physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual among others. With the increasing conversations around self-care and the various resources available to us, it is important for us to remember that self-care is unique to us.

Physical self-care- how you’re taking care of your body in terms of fueling your body with nutrients, getting adequate sleep and rest, getting health check-ups as needed, and exercising!

Mental self-care- involves taking care of our mind, and our thoughts which in turn impact our feelings and behaviours. Mental self-care practices can involve de-stressing, de-cluttering, and or engaging in activities that fuel your mind such as reading or completing puzzles!

Emotional self-care- can involve emotional regulation practices, finding ways that help us identify, understand and cope with emotions, particularly intense emotions such as anger or sadness. Emotional self-care can involve developing healthy coping skills such as talking to a loved one when in distress or journaling to process feelings.

Information about self-care can be overwhelming and it can feel challenging to figure out what works best for you. It is also important for us to remember that self-care does not have to be a big vacation or a shopping splurge. It could be something as small and simple as doing some breathwork, taking a walk, journaling, reaching out to loved ones, or doing some skincare!

Here is a list of apps that may help with beginning/continuing to practice self-care-

1) Calm

2) Headspace

3) Finch: Selfcare widget pet

4) I am-daily affirmations

5) Stoic

6) Mind-easy

7) Moodfit

8) Sanvello

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