Self-care tips to stay sane during the pandemic
Since Canada entered an official state of lockdown back in March due to COVID-19 to say “a lot” has happened across the country is an understatement. Layoffs spread like wildfire across Canada and communities in Canada were ravaged by the virus, resulting in deaths and hospitalization and even still thousands of essential workers continue to be at the forefront of exposure to the virus. All that being said, it’s completely understandable to feel overwhelmed and stressed — which is why it’s more important now than ever to pause and take time for yourself.
Here are a few things you can do to practice self care during the pandemic and how to get into them.
Meditation is an age-old practice. It’s even been proven to be beneficial for brain health; this UCLA psychology study found that long-term meditators had better-preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged. That being said, no one will blame you if the idea of sitting down alone with your own thoughts sounds like the furthest thing possible from appealing. Luckily, there are different ways to make meditation interesting.
Akshobya Kadampa Buddhist Centre in Alberta examines meditation through a Buddhist lense, offering a variety of guided online meditation classes and exercises. They also offer meditation retreats and ceremonies. You don’t have to be Buddhist to join any of the classes and drop-ins are encouraged. Centres like these can be a good place to start if you’re new to meditating.
If Buddhism isn’t your thing, places like Zen Den Meditation in Vancouver offer different kinds of meditation. You could try sound healing, a practice that uses vibrations such as vocal or instrumental-like gongs, Tibetan singing bowls and tuning forks to relax your body and mind. Right now, they have a lot of online classes, so anyone can join from anywhere in Canada.
Transcendental Meditation is a non-for-profit organization with locations all over Canada, including Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. They offer online classes and differ from traditional meditation because they offer one-on-one lessons.
Meditation is not “one size fits all”, so what works for one person might not always for another. It’s okay to try out different things to find what works.
During the pandemic, horticulture has become a growing trend, but aside from being a way to kill time, it also has physical benefits. According to a piece published by Michigan State University, gardening has been known to reduce stress and provide mental clarity. For many the thought of starting a garden is daunting and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.
Common Roots Urban Farm in Nova Scotia, which began in 2012, is a great example of a community garden space run by volunteers. They offer gardening workshops and there is a food market onsite. They also offer four by 12 feet gardening plots for $30; if you don’t want to buy a plot but want to get your hands dirty, you can also volunteer. There are two farm locations: Common Roots Bi-Hi located at the bottom of Bayers Rd, across from the Bayers Road Centre in Halifax; and Common Roots Woodside located on Pleasant St, across from Dartmouth General Hospital in Dartmouth.
Grow Food Toronto is a Facebook group with over 1,200 members that provides resources for gardeners of all skill levels. It also helps members get information about the many community gardens in the Toronto area.
Montreal’s Municipal Garden Program includes 76 different community gardens available to residents. Most gardens provide earth and sand, a water point, a shed or a toolbox and tables, and several also offer smaller gardens in raised beds, which are more convenient for people with limited mobility.
Although these are just a few examples, the popularity of community gardens is on the rise so it shouldn’t be hard to find one in your city.
Although COVID-19 measures and social distancing are still in effect, there are plenty of ways to get out, enjoy the autumn weather and give you a much-needed Vitamin D boost while you’re at it. Canada is full of expansive wilderness, and many parks and hiking trails are now open to the public, including some of Canada’s most popular nature spots.
To name a few, there’s Port Joli Head Trail in Port Joli, Nova Scotia, which loops around the breathtaking Kejimkujik shoreline, littered with Interpretive exhibits along the trail. There’s also Kouchibouguac National Park in Kouchibouguac, New Brunswick, which includes barrier islands, sand dunes, lagoons, salt marshes and forests.
Parks Canada has updated park information online listed by region, so it’s easy to find a park in your area.
If you’re not in the mood for a hike, there are other ways to get fresh air, like hitting up one of Canada’s many beautiful beaches.
Skaha Beach in Penticton, located at the south end of the city, is open to visitors. It features tons of green space to relax with 21 acres of park and beach to enjoy. Or you could head to Sandbanks Provincial Park in Picton, Ontario, a beach full of lots of open space and tons of sand dunes or even Rainbow Haven, a large sand-and-cobble beach in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.
Before you go, be sure to check the beach’s website to make sure you can grab a spot.
If you find beaches too crowded to relax, there are also scenic places like Hopewell Rocks Park in Hopewell, New Brunswick, or Balancing Rock near the town of Tiverton, Nova Scotia, or the Flower Pot rocks in Georgian Bay, Ontario. Places like these exist all over the country and provide stunning views of naturally formed rock formations making them the perfect place to pause and forget the world exists.
During such a stressful time and with so much uncertainty on the horizon, it’s easy to let our own physical and mental health fall to the wayside. Remember to be kind to yourself. Feeling your best might just be the key to getting through this trying time with health and sanity intact.