Mental Health During a Pandemic

We’re living in a strange time where people can save the world by staying at home. Yet at the very same time, grocery stores are constantly out of stock as people hoard daily essentials in fear of a potential lockdown.

Most people are talking about stocking up on toilet paper and flour, but not enough people are addressing mental health. The rising statistics are a continual reminder that we are amidst a global pandemic and the stress can be overbearing. Many are starting to feel the alienating effects of prolonged isolation, even when they’re staying productive. If you’re feeling the loneliness of social distancing, know that you’re not alone.

With the RCDSO extending the recommended clinic closure period (unless there’s an emergency), most dental workers will be at home during this time. Here are some things you can do to help combat stress and improve your mental health while staying safe indoors:


Mindfully Disconnect

While we’re very fortunate that news can be readily accessible to stay informed of the latest updates, it can also strain your mental health. Being constantly bombarded by fear-inducing (and sometimes fake) news can really take a toll on a person’s mentality – especially for overthinkers.

Many people may feel a sense of guilt for not “keeping up” with the news, but you shouldn’t feel obligated to. Give yourself a breather once in a while by mindfully disconnecting from your screens and clear your mind for other things.

Additionally, refer to news from reputable sources, and fact-check any articles before sharing them amongst your peers. This can help reduce the spread of false information that was created to spread fear.


Pick Up a New Hobby

Staying cooped up at home can make you restless. However, you can redirect this energy towards trying something new. Now is a great time to tackle the projects you said you’d “find time to do eventually”, such as:

  • Arts and crafts projects – painting, calligraphy, knitting, macrame
  • Music projects – learning a new instrument, composing a song, mixing music
  • Gardening projects – growing vegetables, succulents and/or plants
  • Reading books you’ve collected
  • Learning a new skill such as programming

These are only some brief suggestions to get you started. Make a list of things you’ve been meaning to try out and slowly work through your list while you have the time at home!

Remember, these should be projects that you enjoy doing to take your mind off the current pandemic situation. If you find that you’re stressing over certain projects too much, don’t be afraid to move on and revisit it another time.


Exercise and Meditate

Endorphins are naturally produced by our pituitary glands. They’re known as the “feel-good” chemicals as they can help relieve pain and boost happiness. Some studies show that it also reduces stress and anxiety.

Dedicating some time during the day to exercise will help release more Endorphins and naturally enhance your mood. Keeping active will also ensure that your muscles and bones stay strong even when you’re cooped up at home. It’s fine if you don’t have any special equipment since many home workout videos on YouTube account for that!

Meditation (alone or after exercising to cool down) can help you focus your mind and eliminate distractions. This is a great way to filter out thoughts from overthinking and concentrate on what’s important. If you’re unfamiliar with meditation, there are apps that can facilitate your session, such as Headspace.


Connect with Loved Ones

Social distancing doesn’t mean you have to be completely disconnected from your friends and family. Connecting with your loved ones can boost your mental health, even if it’s just a quick phone call to catch up. You can even host a virtual party with friends to play games together. Some applications you could try include:

  • Video Calls: Facebook Messenger, Zoom, Skype
  • Party Games: House Party,, Jackbox Party Pack, online board games

For those who are doing well with self-isolation, you can still reach out to friends and family who may be in distress – you’ll never know whose day you can brighten or help alleviate some stress and anxiety.

Although there is a lot of uncertainty ahead, we can still do our best to support one another during these times. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone if you feel that your mental health is being impacted. Be kinder to yourself and each other, be mindful of your actions, and practice proper social distancing so that we can flatten the curve together!

Stay safe and stay healthy.