Get real about how you feel

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It has been more than a year of living in a pandemic and many of us have experienced unprecedented life stressors. Circumstances such as financial strain from reduced income, drained savings or even job loss, separation from loved ones, ongoing changes in schooling and social isolation bring significant disruption to our lives and routines, along with feelings of anxiety and frustration.

It is normal to experience heavy emotions during difficult times and feelings may range day-to-day. Many have been experiencing a sense of helplessness, feeling overwhelmed by anger, sadness or fear, as well as incredible excitement and hope for the future. It’s important to our mental and physical health to feel a wide range of emotions, including the unpleasant ones. While uncomfortable emotions are perceived negatively, they can help us adapt, make sense of life’s ups and downs and keep us safe.

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The key to protecting and promoting our health is emotional literacy. It’s being aware of how we feeland accepting all emotions. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, by naming, expressing and dealing with our emotions we can:

  • improve our physical and mental health,
  • positively influence our immune system functions,
  • reduce stress levels, feelings of anxiety and negative mood states, and;
  • decrease our anger and fear response.

Sometimes naming how we feel can be a struggle, especially when under financial stress. Talking it through, writing it down, or drawing it out can help us label our emotions. The simple act of naming our emotions can lower their intensity and support us to move through uncomfortable emotions. Naming emotions can help us reframe the situation, make better decisions, bounce back from setbacks, and increase our ability to manage and control our thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

Connecting doesn’t just feel good: It’s good for our mental health

Supportive relationships play an important role in our ability to cope and manage our stress through the uncertainties of these challenging times. Having positive relationships and staying connected to others ensures we have a support system to lean on when we need it. When life gets complicated, supportive and caring relationships are key to building resilience, to equip us to cope and bounce back.

Everyone experiences difficult emotions. It’s important to listen without judgment and respond with compassion. It may feel uncomfortable or scary to reach out and speak from the heart, but if we don’t, we can miss out on connecting with one another in meaningful ways. By being open to acknowledging and hearing real feelings, we can make a positive impact on others, ourselves and our community.

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#GetReal about how you feel

Since 1951, Canadians have celebrated and promoted their mental health during Mental Health Week. Join the movement of reducing stigma around mental health by creating a safe, supportive and connected community. Let’s “Get real” about how we are feeling and take this opportunity to connect with others and ask them how they are really doing. Visit to learn ways to support our well-being during Mental Health Week from May 3 to 9.

We are in this together

COVID-19 has impacted all of us. If you feel overwhelmed, stress about finances, parenting, relationships or unsure where to start, support is available through Family and Community Services. Call 780-464-4044 or visit We can get through this together.

This column was written and provided by Strathcona County staff.

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Get real about how you feel

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