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5 Tips to Help You Maintain Your Mental Health

By Melodie Mayer, psychotherapist

The current health crisis has plunged us all into uncertainty, as we deal with constant changes. Having to adapt, reorganize, self-isolate and keep studying can heighten symptoms related to anxiety and depression. Here are a few tips to help you during the pandemic.

  1. It’s normal to experience all sorts of emotions. Fear, anxiety, sadness, joy, anger, uncertainty – we must recognize and name all these emotions so we can then set them aside. Being a prisoner of our emotions or ignoring them completely can take a lot of energy. I encourage you to name your emotions. Give yourself permission to feel what is happening, and then spend time doing activities you enjoy: talk to someone, walk, draw, watch a TV series that makes you laugh, take a bath, listen to a song that makes you happy.
  2. Having compassion for yourself is essential. The flood of emotions and thoughts can be intense at times. However, we have to remember that we are in the midst of unusual circumstances right now, and it can be more difficult to handle the restrictions in our current situation. This does not call into question your abilities to manage your life in general, so be patient with yourself.
  3. Find activities that you enjoy and be sure to add breaks to your study routine. Take short breaks, such as five minutes every hour, to do some stretching, go outside and listen to the birds singing, drink a glass of water, dance, sing, do a word search puzzle, or call a friend. It will do you good. It is important to keep doing little things for yourself and to maintain a routine. Turn off your computer after a while: do your work only for a set period of time. You have the right to take a break even if you have to stay home.
  4. Don’t forget the good things in life. Often, we forget the goodness around us in times like these. Take time every day to make a list: write or draw five to ten things around you that you see as positive. It can be as simple as drinking your favourite coffee, making someone smile, feeling the sun’s warmth on your skin, eating a food you like or having your pet by your side. Be creative: gratitude can have a major influence on your mood.
  5. Do a mindfulness exercise to help you stay rooted in the present moment. Avoid being a prisoner of your thoughts, which can cause symptoms related to anxiety or depression. Use each of your senses to name what is found around you right now (five things you see, hear, feel on your skin, smell, taste). This will force you to return to the present moment and will help you to get past your thoughts. Do this exercise several times, as needed.

Remember that you are not alone and you can access support at any time. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from a family member, friend or neighbour, or find out about support services offered in your area.

Everything will be okay, but for now if things aren’t going well, you can talk about it!
For more information on resources for students, click here.

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