Tips to add to your routine for social wellness
November 13, 2020 - Defence Stories
Author: Lucy Belanger, M.Ed., Strengthening the Forces
Laughter boosts our immune system. It’s good for you and those in your immediate family circle!
The effects and restrictions of COVID-19 continue to directly influence our professional and personal lives. Intentionally taking steps to manage stress, anxiety, social isolation, and other issues during this pandemic while supporting the mental health of families, colleagues, and employees is challenging. The tried-and-true ways to manage these can still be very helpful, but they may need to be adjusted or may require new approaches.
We all know the unexpected happens, so focus on a flexible routine and include activities and strategies to maximize your mental health and management of the unique stressors of the COVID-19 experience. Getting active, finding a new hobby, maximizing virtual and social distancing options to stay connected, and setting aside time just for yourself are vital to re-gaining balance. Make a conscious effort to assess how you are managing and what you need to put in place in order to address the areas of your life that need some attention. Maintenance of your mental well-being is the key to getting through COVID-19. Here are some additional tips and messages for you to consider adding to your routine:
- Slow down and relax
Always being in a hurry and constantly trying to keep up with an overly busy schedule is the perfect recipe for stress. What's the antidote? Slow down and relax. One way to bring your busy life down a notch is to use a series of mini-breaks throughout your day. Stop what you are doing and take three deep breaths. Go for a five minute walk, preferably outside. Stand up and do some gentle stretching for two to three minutes or, if you are not working, take a 10 minute nap.
- Maintain a virtual social network of friends
Friends are vital to our mental health and you can connect with them virtually, or over the phone as recommended during this COVID-19 pandemic. Reach out to friends who are positive and enthusiastic to renew your energy, optimism, and hope. Set up a contact reminder if you intend to (but typically forget) to follow through. The key is to keep reaching out. It's not about whose turn it is or who contacts who the most. It's really all about the positive connection it creates for all of you.
- Laugh out loud
Laughter boosts our immune system. Learn to differentiate between what is serious and what is not. You can incorporate laughter into your day by actively seeking out humour. What tickles your funny bone? Watching old or comedy movies? Playing board games with your spouse and/or children? These activities can all contribute to making us laugh out loud. Indulge yourself and share the laughter. It's good for you and those around you.
- Practice active listening
Truly listening helps you to understand others and improve your relationships. Active listening is a skill that helps you to intentionally focus on whomever you are listening to, so you can fully understand what they are saying. Active listening skills include:
- paraphrasing what the speaker has said;
- making eye contact with the speaker;
- nodding your head;
- leaning slightly toward the speaker or turning your body toward the other person;
- keeping an open stance (legs and arms not crossed);
- keeping quiet when there are pauses;
- allowing the speaker time to think; and
- saying “yes,” “uh huh,” or other brief phrases when listening.
Remember, we are in this together—never hesitate to reach out for help if you need it.
- Canadian Forces Members Assistance program (CFMAP) (24/7) 1-800-268-7708
- Health Canada – Employee Assistance Services (EAS) (24/7) 1-800-268-7708
- EAP peer advisors (accessible only on the Department of National Defence network)
- Canadian Armed Forces Mental Health Services
- Family Information Line (24/7) 1-800-866-4546 (International 00-800-771-17722)
- Canadian Armed Forces Medical Centres
- Wellness Together Canada
- VAC - Understanding mental health
- Road to Mental Readiness
- Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy
- Strengthening the Forces: The CAF's Health Promotion Program
- The Guide to Benefits, Programs, and Services for CAF Members and their Families
- Canadian Forces Morale & Welfare Services At a Glance
- Morale and Welfare Services Directory
- Operational Stress Injury - Social Support
If you or someone you know requires emergency mental health assistance, please call 911 or accompany them—or have someone accompany you—to your local emergency department.
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