March 20, 2020
From Mental Health Commission of Canada
In the midst of COVID-19, it is increasingly difficult to avoid the bleak headlines and bright-red news banners. Staying informed is, after all, one way many of us try to win back a semblance of control. But while it’s natural to seek information about this unfolding public health crisis, we must also take steps to protect our mental health.
With guidance from Dr. Keith Dobson, clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Calgary, the Mental Health Commission of Canada has compiled the following tips to help Canadians protect their mental health as they strive to safeguard their physical well-being and that of their loved ones.
1. Understand the fight-or-flight response
It’s normal to feel anxious in the face of a threat. Our body’s fight-or-flight response is designed to keep us safe by heightening our response to perceived danger. Part of that response is the release of stress hormones, which increase heart rate, blood pressure, and overall alertness.
The brain is continuously seeking new informational cues to re-assess the threat level. Unfortunately, if we bombard ourselves with COVID-19 details, headlines, and images, we reinforce the threat signal and perpetuate the stress response. Remember, the information we allow in will affect how we feel – and we should monitor that intake with care.
Because of the impact stress has on our body’s immune system, managing it during a pandemic is critical to the success of strategies designed to reduce contagion or the severity of the illness.
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