It’s no secret that the pandemic has challenged our mental health. If you feel like you’re drowning, anxious or just plain exhausted, you’re not alone. According to Stephen Frank, President and CEO of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA), mental health claims have increased by a whopping 75 per cent since 2019.

Taking care of your mental health has never been more important—which is why we chatted with our Individual Assistance Program and Employee and Family Assistance Program provider Homewood Health, a Canadian leader in mental health and addiction services, for tips on navigating mental health challenges in a post-pandemic world.

Feeling burnt out and stressed

Stress is a normal part of life. When it becomes chronic or unmanaged it can turn into burnout, which can take a serious toll on your physical and mental health. As we look towards a post-pandemic world, it’s more important than ever to reintroduce the things that brought us joy before Covid hit. Taking time to enjoy the things you love isn’t just a luxury—it’s a necessity.

What you can try

If you’re feeling the effects of post-pandemic burnout and struggling to cope, here are some tips that might help:

  • Step away from daily pressures. It’s easy to fall into the trap of checking work emails or answering work-related texts after hours, but this can seriously disrupt your work-life balance and take a toll on your mental and physical health. The key is to consciously disconnect from work when you’re off the clock. That might mean turning off notifications, resisting the urge to check your email or simply putting your phone away. By doing this, you can free up your mental space to focus on your own needs and wants.
  • Set aside time for creativity. Each day, do something that flexes your creative muscles. Why not try your hand at sketching or painting? If music is more your style, pick up a guitar or keyboard and start jamming away. Or, if you’re looking for a more low-key way to unwind, lose yourself in a good book. There’s no time like the present to get started. So, go ahead and give yourself permission to get creative—the possibilities are endless.
  • Incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine. Have you ever felt like your mind is a never-ending hamster wheel that won’t stop spinning? It’s not always easy to quiet the endless stream of thoughts racing through our minds. But with some practice, we can learn to let go of our worries and simply be. One way to do this is by focusing on your breath. Take a deep inhale, and then exhale slowly and intentionally, feeling your body relax and let go of tension. Try to keep your attention on your breath, and let any distracting thoughts pass by without judgement. Soon, you’ll learn to stay present in the moment, let go of worries and enjoy a moment of calm. And believe us, your mind and body will thank you for it.
  • Revisit the activities that lit up your world pre-COVID. When you’re surrounded by the pressures and demands of daily life, engaging in activities that bring you joy can offer a much-needed reprieve and can help you disconnect from daily stressors. ”Try reconnecting with things that you enjoyed before the pandemic began,” says Taryn Sharpe, clinical manager at Homewood Health. By rediscovering and incorporating these activities into your life, you can find solace, rejuvenation, and a renewed sense of self.

Feeling anxious and depressed

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a true test of our resilience, taking a toll on our mental health like never before. The constant threat of contracting the virus or losing a loved one has created a sense of unease and worry that can be hard to shake. And let’s not forget the endless stream of negative news, leaving us feeling drained and overwhelmed.

What you can try

If you’re dealing with post-pandemic anxiety and depression, these options might offer some relief:

  • Prioritize self-care. Nurture both your body and mind with self-care. You can start by making sure you’re getting enough rest at night, fueling up with a nutritious diet, staying on top of any necessary medications, moving your body regularly or carving out some time to unwind and destress. Start small and slowly work these habits into your everyday routine until they become second nature to you.

“If you are paying attention to your self-care and don’t feel any better after a few weeks, it can be helpful to talk to a family doctor or a counsellor to explore other strategies and resources,” advises Taryn.

  • Connect with others. If you are feeling distressed, support from those who know and love you can make all the difference. Reaching out to trusted friends and family members can provide the support and connection you need during difficult times. Whether it’s through phone or video calls or meeting up in person, staying connected with loved ones can help you feel supported and cared for.
  • Set achievable goals. Setting achievable goals for yourself, no matter how small they may seem, can be a powerful way to promote a sense of purpose and accomplishment in your daily life. Even something as simple as getting out of bed in the morning, completing a household chore or going for a short walk outside can help you build momentum and feel a greater sense of purpose.

Experiencing relationship tension

It’s no secret that the pandemic has drastically changed the way we live and interact with others, especially when it comes to our close relationships. While some couples have used this time to strengthen their bonds, others have found themselves struggling to keep their relationships afloat.

What you can try

If you’re facing tension in your relationship, try out these strategies:

  • Communicate openly and honestly. Building a strong, healthy relationship with your partner requires open communication and a safe space to share your thoughts and feelings. In this kind of environment, both partners can freely express their thoughts and feelings, knowing that they will be met with understanding and support, not judgement. This kind of environment can help nurture a deeper connection between you and your partner. So, let those lines of communication stay wide open, creating a haven where love and understanding can grow.
  • Practice empathy. ”It is easier to communicate in a clear and healthy way when empathy is on the menu,” explains Taryn. It’s not always easy to understand someone else’s feelings and point of view, but by trying to listen and empathize with your partner, you can build a stronger, more compassionate relationship. So, the next time you find yourself in a disagreement, take a moment to pause and consider your partner’s perspective. You might just find that it helps you both feel more understood and appreciated.
  • Explore new hobbies or interests together. Spending quality time with your partner is important in any relationship and trying new activities together can be a fun and exciting way to strengthen your bond. Consider taking up a hobby or doing something adventurous together, like rock climbing, hiking or trying a new cuisine. The possibilities are endless and trying something new together may add an extra spark of excitement to your relationship.

If you’re experiencing difficulties in your relationships, know that you’re not alone. As Amy points out, “Marital and relationship issues have become the number one reason why people are seeking counselling post-pandemic.”

Worrying about finances

While money may not be the key to happiness, financial struggles can certainly take a toll on our mental and emotional health. With job losses, decreased income and growing debt that came from the pandemic, many individuals are now facing an uphill battle to make ends meet.

What you can try

If you’re feeling weighed down by financial stress, these tips may help:

  • Break the silence. Money is often a source of stress and anxiety for many people and discussing your experiences with friends or family can help alleviate some of that burden. By opening up about your thoughts and fears related to money, you can break down the walls of isolation and connect with others who are going through the same struggles. This shared experience can be a powerful way to find solutions and support one another through tough financial times. So don’t be afraid to start the conversation—you might be surprised at how much relief and understanding it brings.
  • Analyze your monthly spending. Understanding your monthly spending habits is an important step in taking control of your finances. By identifying essential costs and pinpointing areas where you might be able to reduce expenses, you can gain a clear picture of your finances and find opportunities to build your savings. “Review your finances, tackle one thing at a time and if needed, seek help from an expert,” encourages Taryn. If you need some guidance, we recommend reaching out to Money Mentors. They are an Alberta-based non-profit organization that provides free debt help, credit counselling, money coaching, or financial education to all Albertans. If you’re an Alberta Blue Cross® member who has access to our Individual Assistance Program or Employee and Family Assistance Program, you can also take advantage of financial coaching offered in partnership with Homewood Health.
  • Build your emergency fund. When it comes to managing your finances, building an emergency fund is a great way to protect yourself from unexpected expenses. To start, aim to create a fund that covers 6 months of fixed expenses, such as rent, utilities and groceries, and keep this money in a high-yield savings account to earn extra interest on every dollar you save. Having an emergency fund can give you peace of mind and protect you against unexpected events like job loss or illness.

If you are an Alberta Blue Cross® personal plan member, visit for more information on the Individual Assistance Program. If you are an Alberta Blue Cross® group plan member, log into member site to see if you have Employee and Family Assistance Program included on your plan.


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