Jan 26, 2021

Protecting your Mental Health during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is a challenging and stressful time. Not only has our physical health been impacted through new practices of physical distancing, but our mental health has been impacted too. Canadians have been experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety, fear, and hopelessness during this time. People with vision loss have even more to consider, including safe navigation in a distanced world, social and physical isolation, and risks posed by travel to essential services like doctor appointments and grocery shopping.

Coping methods have been affected and the way we support our overall mental health and well-being has changed. To support you through these changes and unusual times, we help answer common questions from the vision loss community about supporting your mental health through COVID-19.

COVID-19 and Mental Health Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

What can I do to help lower my stress and anxiety?

  • Get enough sleep, stay active, and maintain a well-balanced diet.
  • Connect regularly with friends and family, while following proper safety measures. Social interaction can help reduce feelings of isolation. · Practice deep breathing exercises. Looking for inspiration? This one minute video is a good guide to help get you started. · Try a guided relaxation exercise.
  • If something is making you feel stressed or upset, take a moment to reflect. Ask yourself “What is upsetting me so much?” Naming your stress or anxiety may help you identify it the next time you feel that way, and may help you work through the emotion.
  • Do a grounding exercise. For example, close your eyes and observe your inner judgments. Focus on feelings of compassion, forgiveness, and kindness, whether it is towards yourself or someone else.
  • Do something to loosen up. You may like to turn on some music and dance, stretch or go for a walk.
  • Do something that makes you happy. Some of these things may include listening to music, cuddling a pet, talking to friends, singing, laughing, praying, dancing, or meditating.

I use my sense of touch to navigate without sight, but now I am fearful of getting sick. How do I manage this challenge?

  • Think about your actions and act in a way that minimizes risk and keeps you safe.
  • Answer this question: Is there a safer way to do what I need to do? For example, instead of going to the grocery store, have your groceries delivered if this option is available.
  • You may need support for some things that you would normally do alone. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Your support network will understand these are extraordinary circumstances.

How can I find ways to express my feelings?

  • Use a journal to collect your thoughts and reflect. This can help provide clarity.
  • Become in-tune with your thoughts and feelings and do your best to accept them. Remember that your feelings are valid expressions of who you are right now.
  • Speak to someone you feel is understanding and accepting.

How can I share my feelings with someone who may not understand what I am feeling?

  • Plan and practice a conversation in advance so you have time to prepare a calm environment.
  • Notice and identify how you are feeling in advance of your conversation.
  • Stay focused and use a specific example of the difficulty you are having or worried about having.
  • Think about a specific and safe way your support network can help you during this time.
  • Set reasonable expectations. The people in your support network may want to understand how you are feeling, as their experience is different from yours. They may also be looking for ways to manage their feelings as they deal with the impact of COVID-19 on their lives.

What phrases can I use to support others who may be worried?

  • “Take a deep breath and try to relax.”
  • “Take it one day at a time.”
  • “You can manage this.”
  • “You have many strength and have coped with difficult situations before, you can do it again.”
  • “You are not alone.”
  • “I am here to listen.”

How do I talk to my employer about the challenges I am facing during COVID-19?

  • Think about your responsibilities. Determine what you can and cannot do under your current circumstances.
  • Consider the flexibility in your workplace and learn more about what your employer is doing to help meet the needs of other coworkers.
  • If you have a union representative, they may help you understand your rights and direct you to the appropriate resources.

What if my workplace can’t make accommodations for me?

Visit the Canadian government’s webpage on the Economic Response Plan to learn more about your rights during this time.

Where can I get more help?

This article was written by Fighting Blindness Canada in collaboration with a mental health care professional.

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