OTTAWA -- As week seven of the COVID-19 measures begins, Canadians are being reminded to stay active, stay connected and take care of themselves.

Since mid-March, Canadians have been urged to practice physical distancing, work from home or deal with school and business closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction and the Mental Health Commission of Canada have partnered to provide tips to manage stress and reduce the harms associated with using alcohol, cannabis and other substances during these difficult times.

In a statement, MHCC president and CEO Louise Bradley says “while these tips are by no means exhaustive, we hope that they contribute to a greater awareness of healthy alternatives to substance use in health-care settings and communities across the country.”

According to the MHCC and the CCSA, this is what you’ll experience if you’re feeling stressed or anxious:

  • Fear or constant worry
  • Anger or being easily irritated
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Struggling with decisions
  • Consume alcohol, cannabis, or other substances more than usual

Here are some things you can do to help you cope during the COVID-19 pandemic: 

  • Stay active and keep yourself busy
  • Stay connected
  • Find balance
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Take care of your body
  • Reach out for help

The Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction also shares tips for health care providers, noting the COVID-19 pandemic poses unique challenges for doctors, nurses and other frontline staff.

Bradley says “todays’ health-care workers are facing this balancing act under extremely arduous circumstances and finding healthy ways to cope with stress is more important than ever.”

Strategies to help you cope

  • Accept and validate your feelings
  • Recognize what’s within your control
  • Remember that this is temporary and will pass
  • Take care of your health
  • Make time for yourself
  • Stay connected
  • Reach out for help
  • Monitor your substance use

Caring for Others

The Mental Health Commission of Canada has also developed a free crisis response training course for essential workers.

“We know that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, essential workers are facing a number of new challenges while at work, which may be affecting their mental health,” the MHCC says on its website.

The two hour online course is designed to provide individuals with the tools and knowledge to better understand their own mental health and the mental health of others.

To access the Crisis Response Virtual Training – Caring for Others program, visit the Mental Health Commission of Canada website.