COVID-19/Mental Health Coping Toolkit

COVID-19/mental health coping toolkit from Mental Health @ Home

We’re living in difficult times, and everyone’s stress levels are through the roof with the coronavirus pandemic.  Unless you were already a hermit (like me), it’s been a difficult transition to social distancing and, in many places, full-on lock-down.  That’s why I decided to put together this COVID-19 coping toolkit.

To get through this we need to follow the direction of public health officials, but we also need to support each other and take care of ourselves.  This coping toolkit has ideas for things you can do to help you to manage.  In addition to these ideas of things to try, consider setting limits around your news consumption and social media use.

COVID-19 mental health coping toolkit section: Exercise your brain

Exercise Your Brain

Learning new things gives you something purposeful to do, but it’s also the mental equivalent of physical exercise, helping your brain to build new neural connections.

  • Alison has free courses on a number of topics, many of which are job skills-related.
  • Coursera offers courses on a variety of topics from multiple universities.  Some are free to take without a completion certificate.
  • edX offers courses from universities on a range of topics. There is a mix of paid content and content that’s free without a completion certificate.
  • Future Learn has courses offered by universities on a wide variety of topics.  Many short courses are available for free.
  • Google Digital Garage has short courses on digital marketing
  • iTunesU is available on iOS and has a wide variety of courses.
  • Ivy League Courses from Brown, Columbia, Harvard, etc. are currently available free
  • Khan Academy offers free courses at high school-ish level in the arts, sciences, and math.
  • OpenLearn offers a broad selection of free courses.
  • Skillshare has courses in business, technology, creative areas, and lifestyle.  Most are paid, but some are free. 
  • Udemy is quite similar to Skillshare.  Most courses are paid, but some are free.

Brain-training apps can challenge your mind but in the format of a game.  A few examples:


TED Talks are another great way to learn new things, and often be inspired at the same time. 

Here’s a favourite of mine to get you started – Susan David, the author of Emotional Agility, talks about The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage.  There are some more recommendations for TED Talks related to mental wellbeing here.

Another great TED Talk pick is Brené Brown’s talk on the power of vulnerability.

COVID-19 mental heath coping toolkit section: Get your read on

Get Your Read On

Want some ideas for books to read?  My book reviews index has a list of all the books I’ve reviewed here on Mental Health @ Home.  If fiction is more your thing, Books and Bakes has lots of great book reviews.

All books on Scribd are currently available free for your first 30 days.

Did you know that local public libraries often have ebooks that you can check out?  The National Emergency Library is also offering its collection to the public globally.

Goodreads is a good way to get social with your reading and find book suggestions.

COVID-19 mental health coping toolkit section: Do a little self-help

Do a little self-help

There are lots of resources available to do your own work using concepts from evidence-based therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).  Here’s a selection of free resources that I’ve found.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)


Dialectical Behaviour Therapy


Other

  • ACT Mindfully: Russ Harris’s site has worksheets from all of his books on ACT.  Like the name implies, ACT focuses on accepting emotions rather than avoiding/fighting them, and committing to actions that are consistent with our identified values.  I found some of the worksheets on values clarification to be quite useful.
  • GetSelfHelp: worksheets galore on a variety of topics
  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook by Ken Lunn
  • Oxford Clinical Psychology forms and worksheets: this site is designed for therapists and isn’t necessarily the most user-friendly to navigate through, but there are lots of resources here
  • PositivePsychology.com: info and worksheets based on a number of different therapy models, including CBT, DBT, and positive psychotherapy
  • Psychology Tools: has a wide variety of worksheets, including CBT and DBT-based
  • Queens University self-help workbooks: workbooks on improving mood, managing anxiety, and self-care
  • Therapist Aid: has a wide variety of worksheets that are geared for therapists to use with their clients.
  • ThinkCBT: has worksheets based on CBT, ACT, and Compassion-Focused Therapy, and includes resources for OCD

The MH@H Mental Health Websites & Apps page has some other suggestions you can check out.

Feeling suicidal? A workbook for the COVID-19 era from Mental Health @ Home

There’s also an assortment of free mental health resources available on the MH@H Store, including Feeling Suicidal? A Workbook for the COVID-19 Era.

COVID-19 mental health coping toolkit section: Get your write on

Get Your Write On

Have you thought in the back of your head about maybe writing a book someday?  That time is now!  Too mentally scattered to write effectively?  That’s okay.  Do an outline.  Just start a word processing file on your computer.  Take some step that moves you from thinking about a book to working on a book.

Consider writing some blog posts about non-pandemic-related topics to schedule for a later date.

Have you thought about branching out with your writing, and maybe trying to write fiction or poetry?  Try that out now!


Contribute mental health guest posts

Want to write about your mental health?  Many mental health-related websites publish readers’ personal stories.  Even if now isn’t the time to submit a story, there’s no reason why you can’t prepare one to submit later.  There are more ideas on Spread Your Writing Wings – Share Your Mental Health Story, but here are some to get you started:


Journal

Surviving Childhood Trauma site logo

Surviving Childhood Trauma has a 14-day writing prompt challenge for self-reflection and a 7-day writing prompt challenge for processing trauma.


Reflecting on Powerful Words guided journal cover from Mental Health @ Home

The Reflecting on Powerful Words guided journal matches amazing quotes from people like Maya Angelou and Winston Churchill with prompt questions that relate to each quote as well as beautiful images.  It’s available free on the MH@H Store.


Creating a bullet journal to support mental health: A how-to guide

The MH@H Store has a free how-to guide on creating a bullet journal to support your mental health.  My approach isn’t about artistry; the key is functionality.


The journal prompt section of my Pinterest journaling board contains a variety of different prompts that I’ve come across.

COVID-19 coping toolkit: Wellness practices

Wellness-Promoting Practices

Here are some free ways to promote mind and body wellness.

Greater Good Magazine from Berkeley University has quizzes to check in on how you’re doing with the keys to wellbeing they’ve identified.


Cultivate gratitude

Gratitude doesn’t fix everything, but cultivating an attitude of awareness can be very helpful. You could do a daily journal entry in either a paper journal or an app (such as Gratitude: Personal Growth & Affirmations Journal).

You can also use prompts, such as the A to Z prompt where you identify something you’re grateful for starting with each letter of the alphabet.

I’ve collected a variety of gratitude journal prompts on Pinterest, which you can find here: https://www.pinterest.ca/MHathome/mindfulness-gratitude/gratitude/


Meditation apps

  • Headspace: meditations in their Weathering the Storm collection are currently free, and Headspace Plus is currently free for people who are unemployed, health care workers, and edcutors
  • Insight Timer: free
  • Simple Habit: has a collection of free guided meditations related to the coronavirus pandemic
  • Smiling Mind: free 

Online yoga


Actions For Happiness

Actionsforhappiness.org publishes monthly calendars with positive action ideas for each day of the month. Below is their calendar for June 2020.

Actions For Happiness calendar for June 2020
COVID-19 mental health coping toolkit section: mindless tasks

Mindless Tasks

Mindless tasks can be a great way to burn off some nervous energy.  Here are a few ideas:

  • cleaning
  • decluttering
  • Marie Kondo-ify your home, or just try her folding system, which is spectacular; her show Tidying Up With Marie Kondo is available on Netflix (although unfortunately not in Canada)
  • if you have a Pinterest account, it’s a far less stressful place to hang out these days than other forms of social media
  • speaking of Pinterest, create some graphics using Canva to go with some of your old blog posts
  • use Canva to create graphics for inspirational quotes to use in your blog posts and on your social media
  • mandala colouring – there are plenty of these available online, from sites like4 Monday Mandala, Super Coloring, and Free-mandalas.net.
  • get crafty, e.g. knit or crochet
  • jigsaw puzzles
  • puzzles like crosswords and sudoku
COVID-19 coping toolkit: Bucket list planning

Bucket List Planning

When we come out of this on the other side (which we will, eventually), what are you going to do with having your freedom back?

Want to make a collage to capture your ideas?  Adobe Spark is a tool that can help with that.  If you’re law of attraction inclined, you may like Dream It Alive. And of course, you can kick it old-school and do it on paper.

Travel is very much not happening right now, but where would you like to go when the world is open for business again?

Spread Virtual Hugs

In-person hugs may be hard to come by these days, but that doesn’t mean we can’t share hugs online.

Hugs to all who need them – pictures of pigs and primates hugging.       hugs to all who need them – images of baboons hugging and boy and goat hugging.

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13 thoughts on “COVID-19/Mental Health Coping Toolkit”

  1. Wow, Ashley, you’ve really put some thought into this post – thank you for the resources/ideas you’ve listed. https://www.open.edu/openlearn/ (OpenLearn) from the Open University is one of my favourite learning places. I’ve bookmarked ActMindfully because I can do with some help with managing my stress.

    These past weeks I’ve been casually decoupaging matchboxes! It’s very calming.

    Wishing you the best, keep well my friend, Faith xo

  2. Wow, Ashley, you’ve really put some thought into this post – thank you for the resources/ideas you’ve listed. OpenLearn from the Open University is one of my favourite learning places. I’ve bookmarked ActMindfully because I can do with some help with managing my stress.

    These past weeks I’ve been casually decoupaging matchboxes! It’s very calming.

    Wishing you the best, keep well my friend, Faith xo

    (Re-posting this in case the url of OpenLearn wasn’t accepted).

  3. Hi Ashley,
    Thank you for being so thorough. I don’t know that I’d add anything here – getting through this quarantine really does seem to be about distress tolerance / coping and staying future focused. I’m kind of new to this blogging thing and to being online more often, but this post and your post about ‘how to start blogging’ have been super motivating. I’m an LMFT in Sac CA and the past few weeks have been really tough for my clients, and myself – mommy, wife, therapist … lots of responsibility with switching my entire practice to online therapy and getting my home office running. This post was definitely informative for anyone reading it and you’ve given a ton of resources – for me personally in my practice and for your other readers! I’m grateful, because now that I’m seeing clients online I don’t have them in front of me to give them handouts, so with the sites you’ve provided I’ll have plenty of resources to direct them to or email them. I’ve got plenty of workbooks, but then I have to spend so much time scanning everything. Looking forward to getting familiar with the online WP community. Thanks again!
    Take care,
    Seija Z.

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