CEO, Ontario Division of the Canadian Mental Health Association
The back-to-school season is often stressful, and the COVID-19 pandemic only provides more challenges during what can already be a difficult time.
BounceBack, a program from the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Ontario Division, is well-versed in supporting students’ mental health needs. A free, guided self-help program for people aged 15+, BounceBack uses telephone coaching, skill-building workbooks, and online videos to support people with mild-to-moderate anxiety and depression, or who may be feeling low, stressed, worried, irritable, or angry.
In the meantime, here’s a few small things you can do straight away to help tackle the challenges of student life:
- Stuck on a problem? Come back to it later. Or break the problem down into smaller chunks — it’s easier to tackle one small piece at a time.
- Take a short break, then come back refreshed or with a different perspective. Some break options may include:
- Grab a healthy snack (fruits, veggies, handful of nuts) and drink lots of water!
- Get up and give your body a stretch or go for a brisk walk to get some fresh air and clear your mind.
- Do something fun or that you enjoy. Dance and sing along to your favourite song. Listen to your favourite podcast. Take a relaxing bath or shower. Call your best friend for a chat or to blow off some steam.
- Breathe. Close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths. Drop your shoulders and relax your arms and legs.
- Ask for help. Got a friend who’s really good in a particular subject? Take advantage of their expertise.
- Get as much rest as possible. Don’t drink too much alcohol or caffeine before bed. If a particular problem is preventing you from getting to sleep, write it down and deal with it in the morning.
- Be kind and patient to yourself. Reward yourself for your successes and for all your hard work. Don’t let the small hurdles prevent you from reaching your long-term goals. Figure out a plan for the next time.
- And don’t forget, especially given the pandemic, it’s normal to feel somewhat anxious. Try not to avoid or ignore your anxious thoughts. Rather, be aware of them and accept you’re feeling anxious in this situation. Try to keep things in perspective; notice and challenge any thoughts that may be extreme or unhelpful.