Supporting one another
The past year has been a rough one for many of us. Economic hardship, a global pandemic, isolation and public health measures that have kept us from doing some of the things that we love most have required many of us to find new ways to cope. Let’s share these with one another!
The recommendations and ideas below come from government, community organizations and our internal experts. We hope that these tips will help you focus on your mental health and wellbeing. We also want to hear from you! Use this form to share what's worked well for you, what you've learned and what some of your favourite moments have been this past year. Over the next 6 weeks, we'll share your wisdom on social media to encourage our community and each other to find ways to prioritize our mental health.
In 101 Strengths-Based Actions to Connect, from a Safe Distance, Dr. Tayyab Rashid shares some specific and unique ways to support mental wellness in yourself and others, based on your (free) character strengths profile, from the VIA Institute on Character.
Take the personality survey online, and then explore the suggestions associated with your top five character strengths. These are great exercises in practicing mindfulness, and using the character strengths profile to choose your activities will add a layer of meaning. Are your strengths kindness and citizenship? Do something for your neighbour that they would like to do but are unable to – clean up their yard or help put in their spring garden. Is creativity one of your top five strengths? Invent a recipe with items you already have on hand. For 99 other ideas, check out the full article.
An Alberta-based innovation, Text4Hope is an evidence-based tool that helps people identify and adjust the negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours a pandemic might be expected to provoke. Through a set of daily messages, people receive advice and encouragement helpful in developing healthy personal coping skills and resiliency. Community members simply subscribe to receive ongoing supportive content. There is no cost, however standard message rates pay apply. Please check with your mobile provider.
How to Connect
Text COVID19HOPE to 393939 to subscribe.
The program provides one-way communication and does not replace other mental health therapies and supports. It is a helpful option for people in self-isolation who can’t access face-to-face services, as well as those in remote locations. Text messages are free, dependent on the users cell phone plan. Some users may be charged per text message depending on their cell phone plan with their current provider. We encourage users to check with their provider as standard message rates apply. If they are unable to sign-up due to potential costs, we encourage them to visit Help in Tough Times where free resources are available, including variety of mental health related podcasts and videos for download.
Text4Hope-Addiction Support and Text4Hope-Cancer Care are also available and designed to help Albertans dealing with psychological issues related to addiction and cancer issues. The expanded services are funded by the Mental Health Foundation.
Text Open2Change to 393939 to subscribe to the addiction program.
Text CancerCare to 393939 to subscribe to the cancer program.
Meaningful social connections help protect our mental health. This resource from the Centre of Expertise on Mental Health in the Workplace offers tips to help address isolation and loneliness some may experience while working from home.
Set a schedule
We are creatures of habit. Routine helps us physically and mentally prepare for our day. When working from home:
- Get ready for work. Shower. Get dressed. Eat breakfast. Keep the same routine as when heading into the oﬃce.
- “Commute” to work. If possible, have a dedicated workspace that minimizes distractions and helps reduce the blurring of lines between your work and home life.
- Schedule your time. Set regular working hours, including breaks and self-care practices between diﬀerent tasks.
- Check-in regularly with your manager and colleagues.
- Respect your limits. Resist the temptation to keep working beyond your established work hours. Know, respect and share your limits with those around you to avoid burnout.
- Physically distancing ourselves can make us feel disconnected. To help maintain social connection:
- Call / text a “work buddy.” Pair up with a peer to whom you can relate, sharing successes and challenges.
- Take a virtual coﬀee break. Skype, FaceTime, etc., hearing friendly voices and maintaining social connection.
- “Meet” by the water cooler. Set up a channel on a social networks for impromptu, informal workplace conversations.
- Help colleagues with disabilities. Oﬀer assistance such as taking notes during virtual meetings or writing a descriptive text to relay information on images.
Make time for self-care
Practicing self-care isn’t selﬁsh. It is essential to maintaining positive mental health. Back to basics works best:
- Get suﬃcient sleep. Aim for 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep. Maintain proper sleep hygiene for the rest you need.
- Eat healthily. Ensure proper, balanced nutrition throughout your work day. Stay hydrated.
- Exercise regularly. Your gym may be closed, but the outdoors are not. Get outside for a daily 20-30 minute walk.
Learn more tools and tips: Visit Canada.ca/GCMentalHealth and follow @CEMHW_CESMMT for resources, services and supports.
For more tips on working from home, including job searching, check out this series of guest blog posts from RDC Career Services.
What has worked well for you? How are you staying connected? Share the activities, tips and encouraging words that have had the greatest impact on your mental health this year, and lets encourage one another!
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