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Got the lockdown blues? Check out #YRStayConnected

York Region's new mental health campaign has plenty of ideas for reducing isolation during the lockdown and the state of emergency
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York Region has launched a new mental health campaign to help fend off the loneliness, depression and "Zoom fatigue" that has been building since the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing began and made worse by lockdown and the state of emergency.

"A lot of us have experienced emotional turmoil. At this time, when the stay-at-home order is in place and the lockdown is in place, some of us may feel the blues. It's important for us to remain connected with our friends and families even at this difficult time," said Dr. Karim Kurji, medical officer of health.

"Also, remember you are not alone, and if you do need any help you can access many resources."

The #YRStayConnected campaign is promoting ways for people to stay connected with each other and reduce the sense of isolation, and encourages residents to share their ideas on social media with the hashtag #YRStayConnected

One thing the campaign suggests is to try to keep connected with other people. This can include:

  • Join an online community, such as a hobby group, online art lessons, virtual book club or a fitness class.
  • Take online classes: Learn something new like cooking, a new language, or accounting. Many post-secondary schools are also offering part-time online courses.
  • Get involved in the community: Join a local service club, support group, or special interest group. Many of these organizations are still meeting virtually.
  • Send a thoughtful gift: Send a gift to someone your care about by courier. Also, a good way to support local businesses. 
  • Stay connected with yourself: Take time to reflect and focus on what's important to you. Meditating is a way to relieve stress, as is journaling.
  • Seek help: if you are your loved ones need emotional support.

The campaign also has some ideas for trying to reduce the sense of isolation you may be feeling right now:

  • Video chat with family and friends: This can be things like eating together, having a coffee date, reading stories, dance parties or children's play dates. Use your imagination
  • Pick up the phone: Call someone. You can still watch your shows with your best friends even if you can't sit next to them.
  • Find some pen pals and write letters to them: This can also be sending the kids' art to their grandparents, homemade cards, or a story written in installments. 
  • Host a virtual game night: You can play many traditional tabletop games over video chat.
  • Start a book club: Pick a new book and have everyone meet later to discuss it over video chat.
  • Get active: You can't go to the gym, but you can work out with others over the internet.

Keeping in touch with elderly friends and relatives is also important, especially since seniors are the most at risk to the virus and can be the most isolated:

  • Pick up the phone: Not everyone gets the whole video chat thing, so daily or weekly calls to loved ones are a good way to check on them.
  • Write a card or letter: Send a thoughtful message through the mail, maybe with a family photo inside.
  • Ask what best works best for them: They may have some advice on how best you can keep in touch.
  • Offer to help: You can run errands or do something else to help them out. 
  • Encourage safe hobbies: These can include crafts, painting, puzzles and book clubs.
  • Provide resources for support: If you have or know of a vulnerable loved one who could use some assistance during this time, visit the region's page on york.ca/covid19 for links to various resources. 

The campaign has also created instruction for activities such as cookie swaps and recipe swaps for people who want to connect with others through food.