Coping with the mental effects of physical distancing

Physical distancing is on everyone’s minds. And for good reason – with the threat of coronavirus, we’re all doing what we can to maintain our (and everyone else’s) physical wellbeing. But it can have a significant impact on our mental health.

According to MindBeacon™, provider of the free digital mental health program Stronger Minds, physical distancing may increase feelings of stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic.

MindBeacon™ recommends these tips to help you cope:

Talk to family and friends

Let other adults around you know how you feel.

By saying, “This is really scary. I’m super anxious,” and having someone respond by saying, “Yes, this is scary. I feel scared too,” it will help you feel closer to those around you and know you’re not alone.

A lot of us are experiencing anxiety and/or stress and it’s true that you’re not alone. This is a good opportunity for phone calls, text messages, or online support groups to help us cope. 

Focus on something else

A big reason many of us feel worried and stressed is because of the amount of attention we’re paying to the pandemic. It’s easy to spend a lot of time on social media or watching the news, especially since we’re “stuck inside.”

Try different activities to keep your mind occupied and fight the boredom that comes along with physical distancing:

  • Colour, paint or find new craft ideas online
  • Do a puzzle
  • Exercise at home
  • Play a board game with an immediate family member
  • Download a new game on your phone
  • Learn something new - take a course online

Be aware of negative social influences

The “social contagion phenomenon” is when people copy behaviours they see in others. For example, when we see someone in full panic mode, we tend to get swept up along with them.  

The reactions of people around us are very powerful. While showing empathy is positive – panicking doesn’t help. It’s important to base your decisions on info you get from legit, science-based sources. Sharing your feelings with others should decrease your anxiety, not increase it. If someone is continually triggering your anxiety, it may be time to set boundaries.

This is a strange and scary time but we’re here to help. Sign up for Stronger Minds by BEACON® – a free digital program for all Canadians, sponsored by Manulife. You can also check our coronavirus (COVID-19) page regularly, for important information and more articles. 

Get free guidance to support your mental well-being during the COVID-19 crisis.

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