VO is recruiting and deploying volunteers to respond to the volunteer needs specific to COVID-19 in Ottawa, Prescott-Russell, Lanark County and Renfrew County while ensuring proper screening and training protocals to safeguard the health of those volunteering and those they are assisting. Please see the intake portals for volunteers, for members, and for other agencies on our hompage. VO gratefully acknowledges the financial support of United Way East Ontario, the City of Ottawa and the Ottawa Community Foundation.
by Maria Lahiffe
Please note: information on the COVID-19 crisis is constantly changing. For up-to-date information, please consult the Ottawa Public Health website, or that of the relevant public health authority in your jurisdiction.
If you are in crisis, please call 1-833-456-4566 toll-free (in QC: 1-866-277-3553) or visit www.crisisservicescanada.ca.
Our lives have been turned upside down in the past couple of months, with many of us at home, either juggling work demands or figuring out how to make ends meet after being laid off. We are all worried about health, if not for ourselves then for our family, friends, and neighbours who are more vulnerable than ourselves.
To top it all off, at a time when we need to pull together in order to support each other, we are being forced to stay apart. It is not surprising, then, that everyone’s mental health is under strain.
Remember, we need to maintain physical distance to contain the spread of COVID-19. We can, and should, maintain and strengthen the social and emotional connections in our lives, especially for people who are alone at this time.
Call your friends and loved ones. Make a pact that you will limit the amount of time you talk about COVID-19. Here is a list of possible conversation topics to get you started. It may feel artificial at first, but if you both work at it, you’ll be able to remind yourselves that there is a whole lot more to life than this disease, even during a crisis.
Keep doing as many of the things you can, which you did before the crisis hit. Get up, shower, brush your teeth, change out of your pyjamas. Maybe walk around the block in the morning instead of getting your car to go to work.
We all want to stay on top of this changing situation. However, reading the news or your social media feed too often can lead to feelings of helplessness. It is better to schedule time each day to check a news source which you know to be reliable, and spend the rest of the day focusing on other things.
What makes you happy? Is it a walk in the woods? A phone call with a friend? Playing with your dog? Painting? Baking? Gardening? Cleaning your house? A warm bath? Make a list of things which you enjoy to do. Organize your list by how long each activity takes. This downloadable form may help.
Make a plan each day to do at least one of the activities which you enjoy. Treat this as an important appointment, because that is exactly what it is. Set the time aside and honour your appointment with yourself. During this time, if you find yourself thinking of other things, especially worrisome thoughts, gently remind yourself that this is a time for joy. Those thoughts can wait. Then re-focus on the enjoyable thing you are doing.
It is totally normal to worry about the future, especially when we are all faced with so much uncertainty. Worry can take on a life of its own, though, which can get in the way of our health. One way to reset is to make a deliberate effort to focus on the present moment.
Sit quietly. Look around you and notice:
Your mind is part of your body. Take care of it. Do all the things your mother told you. Eat your greens. Limit your intake of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. Get enough sleep. Exercise. Drink water.
Above all, be gentle with yourself and others
Remember that it is okay not to be okay. We are social beings. It makes sense that things are especially hard right now, when we can’t be with other people in the same ways. Below are some more links which you may find helpful.