7 Things To Do If The Pandemic Is Affecting Your Mood Lately

Many people are experiencing high levels of stress as a result of the global pandemic. While not everyone's struggles are visible from the outside, the effects of ongoing anxiety are very real.

Whether it's because of a job loss, lack of social contact, or the fear of catching COVID-19, there are several reasons why you might be feeling negative emotions or heightened anxiety in the past few months. 

Maybe you're the type of person who puts the needs of others before your own — even at the risk of forgetting to look out for your well-being. Self-care is essential. If you want to be able to support others and give them good advice, you have to take care of yourself first.

To help those in need, the gouvernement du Québec has launched its latest campaign called "Be there for yourself the way you're there for others."

One of the biggest challenges in coping with negative emotions is asking for help. Maybe you don't feel like you need it, or that no one could relate enough to actually get you through your distress. 

Whatever the reason, here are some simple tips that can help you feel a bit better and face tough days. 

1. Communicate Your Feelings

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You've probably heard that communication is key — and the adage is used for good reason. Getting your thoughts and emotions off your chest is a big step towards improvement.

If you're not ready to discuss your feelings with loved ones, there are lots of free resources for Quebecers where you can speak to psychosocial workers anonymously.

One great resource is Info-Social-811. It's confidential, free, and available 24/7 year-round.

2. Write Down Your Thoughts

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When your mind is swimming with thoughts, journaling can be a huge release. Not only does it give you a tactile way to handle stress, but it can also help you create a cohesive narrative for your situation.

Give yourself some perspective on your thoughts, all from the comfort of your couch. Writing lets you manage your moods and gain insight into your circumstances.

Plus, if you prefer to handle stress independently, the privacy of this tool can't be beaten.

3. Embrace Your Creative Side

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If you've always kept a journal, but it seems a bit harder to get your thoughts down on paper these days, there are other ways to express yourself.

In fact, a bit of writer's block can be liberating — especially if you use the opportunity to enhance your creativity. It could be painting, sculpting, cooking, photography or whatever you choose.

Art therapy comes in all shapes and forms; it's as unique as you are. Plus, since art can be calming and help manage stress, there's nothing to lose and everything to gain.

4. Get Yourself Up & Moving

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Your usual approach to physical activity might have changed this year but, just because gyms have closed, that doesn't mean the benefits of exercise are any less important.

There are still tons of ways to stay active and get those endorphins pumping. From skiing or fat-tire biking to winter hikes or learning a new ice skating trick, the options are practically endless.

If you're more of a homebody, try some simple yoga moves in bed. Get creative and use household items as weights. It only takes ten minutes to get your blood pumping. The workout world is at your fingertips with YouTube's huge selection of at-home fitness routines.

5. Set A Routine & Stick To It

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Experts note that there are tons of benefits to adopting a routine. The idea is that you create fewer decisions for yourself by planning ahead. This frees up time and results in less anxiety and stress.

Having a predetermined schedule helps you prioritize, ensuring that the most important tasks are checked off first — which is super useful if you tend to procrastinate or just generally have hectic days.

Plan out how you want to start or end your day, whether it's with a cup of coffee, a good book, or some light stretching. By consistently following those same steps, you can regain control of your time.

Pro tip: leave yourself a bit of wiggle room in your schedule. This way, if something pops up last minute, you've already accounted for it. And hey, on slower days, you can use that time for some extra self-care.

6. Remember To Be Kind To Yourself

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Chances are, as current circumstances continue to change, your life is probably changing as well. It's normal to feel overwhelmed, so don't add any unnecessary pressure on yourself.

Whether you've had to put some major plans on hold or can't quite muster the energy for that next load of dishes, a simple favour that you can do for yourself is just to take it easy.

Set small, realistic goals and be flexible in your timeline. Prioritize your personal well-being, use your time in a way that makes you happy, and be patient with yourself.

7. Pay It Forward

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A great way to improve your mental state is to help others. Completing an act of kindness is shown to lower stress and increase happiness.

If you're sharing your living space, it can be as easy as making someone a cup of tea or picking up an extra chore. You'd be surprised how far a little bit of kindness can go.

When you shift your perspective to the small ways that you can lend a hand to others, it helps you realize how lucky you are.

You can also take advantage of your free time to declutter your closet and see if you've got anything to donate. You'll feel better in no time!

It helps to take a moment and remember that everything is going to be alright. But everyone has those days when doubts sneak in and stress rises — and that's totally normal.

Looking to the future can sometimes cause feelings of discouragement and irritability. You just have to recognize that every day is a chance to take a small step to make your life a little better.

Take time for yourself and prioritize your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

For more resources, visit the gouvernement du Québec's website. Get free, confidential assistance through the Info-Social 811 phone service.