Blue Monday and the mental health and well-being of Ottawa parents
This past Monday, or what has come to be known as “Blue Monday”, is the inspiration for my message to you this week. “Blue Monday”, the third Monday of January, is the saddest day of the year. There is no factual science behind why this particular day has been recognized in this way just some variables that are believed to come into play; it’s a period where we as Canadians are seeing less sun, indulgence over the holidays is catching up to us, and bills are coming due. Now you throw COVID into the mix and you have an addition to the over hanging umbrella of potential stress and sadness.
This is a particularly difficult time for those whose employment has been effected by the pandemic and feel economically vulnerable. We all need to be aware of the hardships happening in our own communities. Just a reminder to shop locally whenever possible and support our neighbours.
Considering the level of attention and seriousness being paid to COVID-19, it’s normal to feel sad or anxious. We need to remember to be kind to ourselves and others now more than ever. It is important to our well-being to be aware of anxiety and the stress that we along with others may be experiencing. This is a time when self-care is critically important. To lean on social supports, to get enough sleep, try eat healthy and exercise and engage in enjoyable Covid Wise activities.
Given the current Provincial restrictions and school closures, the next month is going to be challenging for parents and guardians who have children learning from home as they try to balance that with work obligations and other commitments. Please make time to reach out to your employers and other partners for the available support. Ottawa Public Health is encouraging individuals to check in virtually on extended family, neighbours, friends and colleagues. Individuals might consider dropping off food or sending a meal, treats, crafts or games to families with children or sending a letter, card or care package to a loved one. Suggestions for connecting virtually and more can be found here: OttawaPublicHealth.ca/SocialWise.
As well there are several free online resources that are available for parents and children:
- OttawaPublicHealth.ca/COVIDmentalhealth – includes mental health and substance use resources and counselling supports as well as information on how to stay mentally healthy during the winter.
- Parenting in Ottawa – provides resources and support for parents, including information on helping children cope during the pandemic, at-home learning and frequently asked questions.
- https://www.facebook.com/parentinginottawa/ – parenting in Ottawa Facebook page.
- https://ottawa.ca/en/family-and-social-services/childrens-services/apply-child-care – provides guidelines and an application form for essential workers to apply for emergency childcare.
- Community Services and Resources from Crime Prevention Ottawa – provides resources and contact information for local organizations that support victims of domestic/gender-based violence. With Provincial restrictions in place and people working from home, we have seen a stark increase in reports of domestic violence. The link above provides contact information for local organizations that can help support people who might be victims and/or survivors of domestic violence.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of getting outside and the benefits it has on our well-being and mental health. This past weekend I came across so many residents in the Bay Ward community engaging in various outdoor activities like walking, cross-country skiing, and building snow sculptures. Here is a link to view some of the many creations that came to be through a contest organized by the Queensway Terrace North Community Association.