Marianne Brueckert, program manager of Hope/Boston Bar Victim Services. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard

COLUMN: What you can do to stay sane and healthy during social isolation

Marianne Brueckert is the program manager for the Hope/Boston Bar RCMP’s Victim Services

We are facing a very uncertain and difficult time. It has caused a lot of changes and has added stress to our lives.

No one is immune from this. We are in the midst of a global human experience and we have to make choices on what we do and how we live through this time.

We have all heard of the importance of social distancing, hand washing, working from home where possible, and limiting contact with other people all together. That has created personal challenges for many and it has impacted peoples financial security, isolation, connectedness with others, access to services and necessary supplies, and for some it has increased their vulnerability as they may live in a volatile and unsafe home.

For some there will be illness and even loss of life. It is more important than ever before that we offer compassion and kindness to others and to ourselves.

What can help? There are practical things we can do and there are important self-care and mental health issues we need to pay attention too. It is more important than ever that we offer support and suggestions to people to help them come through this time with their family in as “whole” a way as possible.

Our mind can create layers of fear so our goal needs to be how we manage that fear and alter our view about this period of social isolation. There is no question these are serious issues and critical times but we do have some control over our overall health and we must rise to that.Create a schedule for your home and your family members. Life runs a little more smoothly if you can create some patterns that you would normally have, for example have your kids practise their karate, gymnastics, piano, French, etcetera. Find a way in your home and yard to adapt and do some of the activities you did before.

  • Keep your home and environment clean, stay on top of the basics.
  • Stay socially isolated: that means not meeting up with friends for coffee. Call them instead, use social media such as Facebook messenger, Zoom, Skype, write a letter.
  • Kids don’t get to meet to play games so create virtual connections. Remember to limit the time to include family interactions and learning.
  • Commune with nature – Our natural world can restore us. We live in a beautiful area and have opportunities to be outside away from others. Don’t visit popular hiking spots, but do find ways of enjoying our natural world.
  • Garden: get out in your yard. Plan your garden – plant a victory garden. Enjoy the fruits of your labour later in the year.
  • Stay connected with your family and friends; with your church- many are offering online services; reach out for mental health supports – see links below.
  • Get dressed every day: show up for the world you want – not the world you are in!
  • Have a dress up night for dinner – you can even invite other family members virtually.
  • Hydrate and eat well- healthy with a few fun snacks thrown in.
  • Sleep – 8 hours – your rest is critical.
  • Laugh, laugh, laugh – watch funny movies, crack jokes at home, smile frequently. This is healthy for your brain.
  • Spend time with your pets: petting an animal has been shown to reduce anxiety/stress
  • Get creative- our creativity can spark other parts of our brain and can help us to feel more connected. Paint, draw, make music, build, quilt, sing, write a poem or a book , create a family play… the options are unlimited. Do not underestimate the value of creating something that speaks to your soul.
  • Learn something new – a language; how to cook a new dish; build a go kart- whatever strikes your fancy.
  • Reach out to someone isolated- a phone call; a wave; an offer to pick up groceries or medication.
  • Plan family fun nights – these will create memories that can last a lifetime and can help create sanity in your home in the short term.
  • Organize grocery shopping to once every two weeks if possible.

Your mental health matters more now than ever and it takes some extra attention. Being productive, staying safe, healthy and being loved are important human needs. We also need to feel connected and to have fun. Happiness, laughter and joy are valuable commodities at this time. Although it is not always possible to bring that forward, do what you can to fill some part of your day with something uplifting and positive.

When sadness, grief and fear rise up – recognize it and understand that it is an important and real emotion. Honour it and allow yourself to cry, feel it, see it, express it and then park it in a safe place where you can deal with it again at a later time. It has a place in your life, your challenge is to not let it control your life. Do not run from it. Those feelings are real and need to be honoured. While it may be painful, it is an honest and deep connection to a real felt experience. If you dismiss it, it will reappear.

Get help when you feel you need it. Reach out to friends, family or mental health supports. When the struggle gets too great make sure you reach out to others.

Manage your stress – talk with your children.

Write out a journal or just record your thoughts in some manner.

Talk with your spouse, partner, friend. Do not suffer in silence. Sometimes just stating what is in our mind takes away some of the fear and negative power that those thoughts hold.

We at Victim Services are still here and providing some support and information to those who may be in need. While all direct in person service is suspended, we are available over the phone (with some limited hours) to answer any questions, provide information or just to be an ear for your concerns.

As we have seen many services have ceased during this time, but there are others that are still offering some support. All our first responders are still working and if you are in crisis or need immediate help you can still call 911 and access the police, ambulance or fire.

All court matters, except for the most urgent are suspended/postponed. The courts will address those urgent criminal and family matters in a manner that is safe and deals with the current need. Most matters are on hold until mid-May and new dates will be set at that time.

Listed below are just a few resources that may help you during this time.

Local Services

• Hope Boston Bar Victim Services: 604-869-7770

• Jean Scott Transition House: 604-869-5191 (Women’s Shelter)

• Fraser Health Crisis Line: 604-951-8855 1-877-820-74444 https://www.crisislines.bc.ca/fraser

• For District of Hope updates go to: https://hope.ca/covid-19

Provincial Services

• Provincial updates: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19

• Managing COVID-19 – Ministry of Mental Health & Addictions: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/healthsafety/covid19_stressmanagement_5_accessible.pd

• Victim Link – 1-800-563-0808 www.victimlinkbc.ca

• Legal Services Society https://lss.bc.ca/

• Battered Women’s Support Services: 1-855-687-1868 https://www.bwss.org/. Email us at intake@bwss.org Text 604-652-1867

• Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)

Federal Services

• Mental Health Commission of Canada COVID-19 Resource Hub: https://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/covid19

• Kids Help Phone: Text 686868 : Toll Free: 1-800-668-6868 www.kidshelpphone.ca

• The Life Line Canada Foundation- Mental Health Apps: https://thelifelinecanada.ca/pattern-interrupt/mental-health-apps/

Please be kind to one another and take care of each other.

Marianne Brueckert is program manager for the Hope/Boston Bar RCMP’s Victim Services.

Coronavirusmental health

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