Incorporate wellness and stress management strategies that have worked in the past now (e.g. connecting virtually with friends and family, staying active, hydrated, enjoying hobbies such as cooking, reading, mindfulness, etc). Try to regulate your media/news intake if you find it is not contributing positively to your mental health. It’s OKAY not to be super productive at this time - by just staying at home and doing nothing, you’re still doing a lot and saving lives! It’s OKAY to feel down, to feel less motivated, to feel disappointed for things/plans/experiences that have been lost or sacrificed with this pandemic. Have a low threshold to reaching out for help and support - from your friends/family/classmates, your UGME, your family physician or therapist. Be kind to yourself and patient with yourself and take it one day at a time.
Wellness Tips for Quarantine
By Eileen M Feliciano, Psy.D. Link
1. Stick to a routine. Go to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time, write a schedule that is varied and includes time for work as well as self-care.
2. Dress for the social life you want, not the social life you
have. Get showered and dressed in comfortable clothes, wash your
face, brush your teeth. Take the time to do a bath or a facial.
Put on some bright colors. It is amazing how our dress can impact
3. Get out at least once a day, for at least thirty minutes. If
you are concerned of contact, try first thing in the morning, or
later in the evening, and try less traveled streets and avenues.
If you are high risk or living with those who are high risk, open
the windows and blast the fan. It is amazing how much fresh air
can do for spirits.
4. Find some time to move each day, again daily for at least
thirty minutes. If you don’t feel comfortable going outside,
there are many YouTube videos that offer free movement classes,
and if all else fails, turn on the music and have a dance
5. Reach out to others, you guessed it, at least once daily for
thirty minutes. Try to do FaceTime, Skype, phone calls,
texting—connect with other people to seek and provide support.
Don’t forget to do this for your children as well. Set up virtual
playdates with friends daily via FaceTime, Facebook Messenger
Kids, Zoom, etc—your kids miss their friends, too!
6. Stay hydrated and eat well. This one may seem obvious, but
stress and eating often don’t mix well, and we find ourselves
over-indulging, forgetting to eat, and avoiding food. Drink
plenty of water, eat some good and nutritious foods, and
challenge yourself to learn how to cook something new!
7. Develop a self-care toolkit. This can look different for
everyone. A lot of successful self-care strategies involve a
sensory component (seven senses: touch, taste, sight, hearing,
smell, vestibular (movement) and proprioceptive (comforting
pressure). An idea for each: a soft blanket or stuffed animal, a
hot chocolate, photos of vacations, comforting music, lavender or
eucalyptus oil, a small swing or rocking chair, a weighted
blanket. A journal, an inspirational book, or a mandala coloring
book is wonderful, bubbles to blow or blowing watercolor on paper
through a straw are visually appealing as well as work on
controlled breath. Mint gum, Listerine strips, ginger ale, frozen
Starburst, ice packs, and cold are also good for anxiety
regulation. For children, it is great to help them create a
self-regulation comfort box (often a shoe-box or bin they can
decorate) that they can use on the ready for first-aid when
8. Spend extra time playing with children. Children will rarely
communicate how they are feeling, but will often make a bid for
attention and communication through play. Don’t be surprised to
see therapeutic themes of illness, doctor visits, and isolation
play through. Understand that play is cathartic and helpful for
children—it is how they process their world and problem solve,
and there’s a lot they are seeing and experiencing in the
9. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and a wide berth. A
lot of cooped up time can bring out the worst in everyone. Each
person will have moments when they will not be at their best. It
is important to move with grace through blowups, to not show up
to every argument you are invited to, and to not hold grudges and
continue disagreements. Everyone is doing the best they can to
make it through this.
10. Everyone find their own retreat space. Space is at a premium, particularly with city living. It is important that people think through their own separate space for work and for relaxation. For children, help them identify a place where they can go to retreat when stressed. You can make this place cozy by using blankets, pillows, cushions, scarves, beanbags, tents, and “forts”. It is good to know that even when we are on top of each other, we have our own special place to go to be alone.
11. Expect behavioral issues in children, and respond gently. We
are all struggling with disruption in routine, none more than
children, who rely on routines constructed by others to make them
feel safe and to know what comes next. Expect increased anxiety,
worries and fears, nightmares, difficulty separating or sleeping,
testing limits, and meltdowns. Do not introduce major behavioral
plans or consequences at this time—hold stable and focus on
12. Focus on safety and attachment. We are going to be living for
a bit with the unprecedented demand of meeting all work
deadlines, homeschooling children, running a sterile household,
and making a whole lot of entertainment in confinement. We can
get wrapped up in meeting expectations in all domains, but we
must remember that these are scary and unpredictable times for
children. Focus on strengthening the connection through time
spent following their lead, through physical touch, through play,
through therapeutic books, and via verbal reassurances that you
will be there for them in this time.
13. Lower expectations and practice radical self-acceptance. This
idea is connected with #12. We are doing too many things in this
moment, under fear and stress. This does not make a formula for
excellence. Instead, give yourself what psychologists call
“radical self acceptance”: accepting everything about yourself,
your current situation, and your life without question, blame, or
pushback. You cannot fail at this—there is no roadmap, no
precedent for this, and we are all truly doing the best we can in
an impossible situation.
14. Limit social media and COVID conversation, especially around
children. One can find tons of information on COVID-19 to
consume, and it changes minute to minute. The information is
often sensationalized, negatively skewed, and alarmist. Find a
few trusted sources that you can check in with consistently,
limit it to a few times a day, and set a time limit for yourself
on how much you consume (again 30 minutes tops, 2-3 times daily).
Keep news and alarming conversations out of earshot from
children—they see and hear everything, and can become very
frightened by what they hear.
15. Notice the good in the world, the helpers. There is a lot of
scary, negative, and overwhelming information to take in
regarding this pandemic. There are also a ton of stories of
people sacrificing, donating, and supporting one another in
miraculous ways. It is important to counter-balance the heavy
information with the hopeful information.
16. Help others. Find ways, big and small, to give back to
others. Support restaurants, offer to grocery shop, check in with
elderly neighbors, write psychological wellness tips for
others—helping others gives us a sense of agency when things seem
out of control.
17. Find something you can control, and control the heck out of
it. In moments of big uncertainty and overwhelm, control your
little corner of the world. Organize your bookshelf, purge your
closet, put together that furniture, group your toys. It helps to
anchor and ground us when the bigger things are chaotic.
18. Find a long-term project to dive into. Now is the time to
learn how to play the keyboard, put together a huge jigsaw
puzzle, start a 15 hour game of Risk, paint a picture, read the
Harry Potter series, binge watch an 8-season show, crochet a
blanket, solve a Rubix cube, or develop a new town in Animal
Crossing. Find something that will keep you busy, distracted, and
engaged to take breaks from what is going on in the outside
19. Engage in repetitive movements and left-right movements. Research has shown that repetitive movement (knitting, coloring, painting, clay sculpting, jump roping etc) especially left-right movement (running, drumming, skating, hopping) can be effective at self-soothing and maintaining self-regulation in moments of distress.
20. Find an expressive art and go for it. Our emotional brain is
very receptive to the creative arts, and it is a direct portal
for release of feeling. Find something that is creative
(sculpting, drawing, dancing, music, singing, playing) and give
it your all. See how relieved you can feel. It is a very
effective way of helping kids to emote and communicate as
21. Find lightness and humor in each day. There is a lot to be
worried about, and with good reason. Counterbalance this
heaviness with something funny each day: cat videos on YouTube, a
stand-up show on Netflix, a funny movie—we all need a little
comedic relief in our day, every day.
22. Reach out for help—your team is there for you. If you have a
therapist or psychiatrist, they are available to you, even at a
distance. Keep up your medications and your therapy sessions the
best you can. If you are having difficulty coping, seek out help
for the first time. There are mental health people on the ready
to help you through this crisis. Your children’s teachers and
related service providers will do anything within their power to
help, especially for those parents tasked with the difficult task
of being a whole treatment team to their child with special
challenges. Seek support groups of fellow home-schoolers,
parents, and neighbors to feel connected. There is help and
support out there, any time of the day—although we are physically
distant, we can always connect virtually.
23. “Chunk” your quarantine, take it moment by moment. We have no
road map for this. We don’t know what this will look like in 1
day, 1 week, or 1 month from now. Often, when I work with
patients who have anxiety around overwhelming issues, I suggest
that they engage in a strategy called “chunking”—focusing on
whatever bite-sized piece of a challenge that feels manageable.
Whether that be 5 minutes, a day, or a week at a time—find what
feels doable for you, and set a time stamp for how far ahead in
the future you will let yourself worry. Take each chunk one at a
time, and move through stress in pieces.
24. Remind yourself daily that this is temporary. It seems in the
midst of this quarantine that it will never end. It is terrifying
to think of the road stretching ahead of us. Please take time to
remind yourself that although this is very scary and difficult,
and will go on for an undetermined amount of time, it is a season
of life and it will pass. We will return to feeing free, safe,
busy, and connected in the days ahead.
25. Find the lesson. This whole crisis can seem sad, senseless, and at times, avoidable. When psychologists work with trauma, a key feature to helping someone work through said trauma is to help them find their agency, the potential positive outcomes they can effect, the meaning and construction that can come out of destruction. What can each of us learn here, in big and small ways, from this crisis? What needs to change in ourselves, our homes, our communities, our nation, and our world?
Learn about acts of kindness and uplifting stories from the front lines of Canadian health care. Link
CAMH Mental Health Tips and Resources
CAMH coronavirus mental health page with tips and resources. Link
Wellness Advice from UN
Wellness advice and mindfulness/breathing exercises. Link
ABC123: Psychological First Aid Tool
For acute emotional distress related to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Link
Lessons from an astronaut: how to stay resilient in isolation
Article about resiliency in isolation. Link