How to manage stress and anxiety in the midst of a pandemic

Stress and anxiety are common mental health issues that impact many Canadians. Due to COVID-19 many individuals, especially parents, are experiencing an increased amount of stress and anxiety which can negatively impact one’s daily life. Stressors like the decrease of work hours and job instability have been negatively impacting the mental health and wellbeing of parents and teachers since the beginning of the pandemic, but one of the biggest stressors both groups are facing today is prolonged uncertainty around the return to school.

Therapy is a great way to learn how to manage your stress and reduce symptoms affecting your health. With the high costs of therapy, many Canadians are not receiving the care they need. That's where AbilitiCBT comes in. This free internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (iCBT) program is accessible from any device, and will help improve the quality of life. CBT helps you understand and change the thoughts, feelings and behaviors that are causing you problems. AbilitiCBT works the same way, but virtually.

“While AbilitiCBT has been on the market for over two years, listening to the ongoing changing needs of our clients made us quickly realize that the uniquely challenging aspects of the pandemic, such as isolation, uncertainty and information-overload, were having a negative impact on Canadians’ mental health. In response, we announced in March that we would be expanding our existing AbilitiCBT solution to address these specific needs and help Canadians deal with the challenges brought on by COVID-19,” says Nigel Branker, President, Health & Productivity Solutions & Executive VP at Morneau Shepell.

As students return to school and COVID-19 cases are on the rise, many Canadians may be feeling anxious regarding the health and safety of themselves and their families. While many individuals are working from home, this convenient program is geared toward improving mental wellbeing for users over the age of 16.

Through a user-friendly interface, AbilitiCBT will ask a variety of questions to assess your mental health and will match you with a professional therapist by phone or video. Following the initial assessment, there will be 10 modules, consisting of activities and assignments to help you learn new skills. Along the way, there will be scheduled appointments with your therapist to provide support and advice. The role of digital tools have become critical in supporting Canadians’ wellbeing as a result of COVID-19, and the core elements of the program – including access, convenience and affordability – are definitely here to stay during and after the pandemic.

“Having built a robust AbilitiCBT platform, our next focus is to add more programs and modules that help people with a wider variety of issues, such as grief or trauma. We also continue to pay close attention to the ever-evolving concerns of our clients and remain committed to providing safe, confidential and clinically effective ways to support their wellbeing,” says Branker.

Prioritizing self-care is one of the best ways to navigate stress and anxiety, including maintaining a healthy diet or a regimented sleep routine to staying hydrated and focusing on breathing. In instances where self-care is not enough, it is encouraged to take advantage of the many resources available in Canada, such as AbilitiCBT™ which is free to residents over 16 in Ontario and Manitoba. Resources like this help individuals build the foundational coping skills and resiliency needed to manage anxiety and uncertainty as the pandemic continues.

All Morneau Shepell therapists are regulated health professionals and are registered social workers, psychologists, psychotherapists or counsellors. They have a minimum Master’s level education and at least five years of post-Master’s clinical experience. Additionally, Abiliti CBT can guarantee their therapists are well-versed and experienced CBT practitioners who have completed an intensive screening process with reference checks.

Despite the many challenges caused by COVID-19, you can still make a positive change in your life with this easy to use program! If your mental health is declining due to anxiety, AbilitiCBT is a great tool to learn coping strategies and can drastically improve your mental health.

Photo: AJ Garcia, Unsplash