Booking a COVID-19 vaccination appointment

If you are ready to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment (first or second dose), you will need to do so through your province or territory’s online booking system. Many of the systems have both online and phone booking options.

Who is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine?

Most Canadians over the age of 12 are eligible for a vaccine, which are offered free of charge. If a person is allergic to any of the ingredients in a COVID-19 vaccine, displaying symptoms of COVID-19, or otherwise immuno-compromised, they should first speak with a doctor about the vaccines.

Booking an appointment by province/territory

Each province/territory has its own online booking system for people to register for first and second dose COVID-19 vaccine appointments. We have organized these online platforms by province/territory, and included any accessibility information that may be available.

If you have questions about a specific booking system, please use the province or territory’s contact information.

Alberta

British Columbia

Manitoba

New Brunswick

Newfoundland and Labrador

Northwest Territories

Nova Scotia

In-home appointments are available. Find out more on their website.

Nunavut

Ontario

Information is available in other languages.

Prince Edward Island

Quebec

Saskatchewan

Yukon

Refer all questions to your doctor

If you have any questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, speak with your doctor or another member of your medical team.

COVID-19 & COVID-19 vaccines

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been something that the world has lived with since 2020. It has affected the health of millions of people, and unfortunately led to hundreds of thousands of deaths. It has also caused families and friends to be separated for long periods of times, disrupted local businesses, and created backlogs in the medical system. This has resulted in a loss of access to rehabilitation and support services for some people, including those in the brain injury community.

Canada has a COVID-19 immunization program in place to provide vaccines to anyone over the age of 12 who want them. Millions of doses have been administered, which has helped provinces and territories welcome visitors, expand business capacity, and aided the load on the medical system.

Understanding the COVID-19 disease and the vaccines is an important part of understanding how both impact daily life.

Effects of COVID-19

Symptoms of COVID-19 are varied, but there are a few that are more common [1]. These include:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting

While many people fully recover, there are a percentage of patients who experience the symptoms long-term. These symptoms can also negatively impact pre-existing health conditions.

In studies of patients with COVID-19, there have been several different long-term effects on organs as well [2], including:

  • Damage to the heart muscle
  • Damage to the lungs through an associated form or pneumonia
  • Neurological effects

COVID-19 is still a relatively new disease, and as such, a lot of the long-term effects are still unknown. That’s one of the reasons safety measures around the world were so extensive, and why many are still in effect.

The impact of COVID-19 on Canadians

COVID-19 has had more than health effects. Due to the nature of the disease and the safety measures in place, daily life has changed on a global scale. This includes:

  • Restrictions on the number of people in spaces
  • A shift to online services and appointments, leading to a reliance on digital devices and the Internet
  • Delay in medical procedures, appointments, and rehabilitation
  • Loss of income for local businesses, leading to economic uncertainty
  • Increased isolation
  • Increase in mental health challenges
  • Increase accessibility challenges (particularly online) that has created more barriers for the disability community

It will be years before the full health and societal impacts of COVID-19 are known. Many individuals will be coping with the results of their own pandemic experiences for a long time as well.

Information about the COVID-19 vaccine

While COVID-19 is still very much a part of daily life, the introduction of COVID-19 vaccines has made it possible for Canada to combat the disease and give people the opportunity to move back to in-person activities, seeing family and friends, and once again accessing supports and services that may have been unavailable at the height of the pandemic.

Health Canada has thoroughly tested and approved the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently in use in Canada. Only vaccines that have proven to be safe, effective and of high quality are authorized for use [3].

The COVID-19 vaccines in Canada do not contain any form of the COVID-19 disease, so can’t pass the disease onto you.

The vaccine is provided in two doses to give you the highest level of protection possible. The more people who have the vaccine, the more activities can be re-introduced.

What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

As with any vaccine, there are some side effects. These can include [4]:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Pain at the injection site

These side effects are short-term, and are a natural response to vaccines.

What’s in the COVID-19 vaccine?

Since there are different COVID-19 vaccines, they may have different ingredients. The Government of Canada has the medical ingredients for each of the authorized vaccines listed on their website.

Some individuals have allergies to certain medical ingredients, and as such may not be able to get certain vaccinations. Always consult a doctor if you are uncertain or need a second opinion on the vaccines.

The vaccine is the strongest tool against COVID-19

The COVID-19 is making it possible for families to come together, rehabilitation services to start up again, and other aspects of daily living to resume. It’s helping protect members of the community against a devastating illness.

If you are looking for more information about vaccines, or have any questions about the vaccination process, reach out to your doctor or a member of your medical team.

More information on COVID-19 vaccines


See sources

COVID-19 vaccine information

The COVID-19 pandemic started in Canada in March 2020, and since then there have been many safety measures put in place to protect people as much as possible. This includes a vaccination program, which is now available across Canada.

COVID-19 vaccines are one of the best ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from the disease. Vaccines are also helping services, organizations, and businesses open up to the community, making it possible for you to access the supports you need.

Vaccines that are approved for use in Canada go through an intense screening process so that the safest, most effective vaccines are provided to Canadians. These vaccines are free, and available in every province and territory. They are provided in two doses for maximum protection.

It is important to talk to your doctor and make the decision that is best for you.

If you are looking for more information about COVID-19 vaccines, check out our resources listed below.

This content is developed in partnership with the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Brain aneurysm

A cerebral aneurysm is when there is a bulge in a weak area in a wall of an artery that may leak or rupture. A bulging artery puts pressure on the brain tissue or nerves depending on where it is located. If it bursts – or hemorrhages – blood will spill onto the tissue between the brain and the skull. This can lead to hemorrhagic stroke, brain damage or in rare cases, death.

Brain aneurysm causes

Causes and risk factors of a brain aneurysm include:

  • Age – older individuals are more likely to develop aneurysms
  • Excessive alcohol or drug use
  • Family history/genetics
  • Gender – specifically, females are more likely to develop aneurysms
  • High blood pressure
  • Past aneurysms
  • Smoking

Aneurysms can develop after head trauma or infection – but these causes aren’t as common.

Symptoms of aneurysm

In many cases, there will be no visible symptoms of an aneurysm. When symptoms do appear, it is because the brain aneurysm has burst. The symptoms will appear suddenly. Emergency services should be called at 9-1-1 immediately. First-responders are necessary because they may have to use life-saving measures quickly. Symptoms of an aneurysm include:

  • Sudden, severe headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Changes in speech
  • Neck pain
  • Nausea
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Fainting
  • Seizures

Brain aneurysm treatment and recovery

An unruptured brain aneurysm is normally found during unrelated tests/screenings. A ruptured brain aneurysm will be diagnosed using computerized scans and dye tests. Once a ruptured brain injury is diagnosed, there are a few different treatment options. Doctors will recommend the one(s) best suited to the person’s situation based on factors such as age, location and severity of the aneurysm. These treatment options include:

  • Open surgery which enables the surgeon to place a clip around the base of the aneurysm, preventing blood from entering it
  • Endovascular surgery which happens within the blood vessels. It’s a smaller, less-invasive surgery to implant shunts or coils

Alternatively, doctors may recommend observation and spend more time monitoring the aneurysm.

Coping with changes after a brain aneurysm

A brain aneurysm can have a variety of effects depending on how much blood there is and the damage it does to the brain tissue or other arteries. There can be changes to cognitive and physical abilities, vision, balance, and more. It’s important to keep in mind that treating the brain aneurysm will not reverse the effects it has caused.

That means that once the person is in recovery, they may have to learn new ways to complete activities of daily living (ADLs)


See sources

Intimate partner violence & brain injury

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is physical, emotional, and verbal abuse by a significant other or intimate partner. IPV is a global public health issue, and it can happen to anyone.

According to the World Health Organization, one in three women will experience intimate partner violence in her lifetime. Most may also suffer one or more brain injuries as a result, since IPV often involves blows to the face, head, and neck.  Brain injury in IPV can also happen from a loss of oxygen to the brain caused by strangulation. Often times, these injuries result from repetitive episodes of IPV occurring over many months or years.

While there’s traditionally been a strong focus on sports-related concussion, brain injuries caused by intimate partner violence receive much less attention.

Statistics about intimate partner violence

  • In Canada, every two and a half days, a woman or girl is killed violently, usually by a male partner or family member [1], and each night, more than 6,000 women and children find refuge from gender-based violence in shelters [2]
  • 35-80% of women affected by IPV experience symptoms of traumatic brain injury [3]
  • Up to 92% of IPV incidents involve hits to the head and face, and strangulation [4]
  • Strangulation is one of the most dangerous forms of IPV, increasing the risk of death in following assaults [5]
  • Some victims can die weeks after being strangled because of the underlying brain damage, even if there is no visible injury [6]

Statistical information about intimate partner violence (IPV) as collected and reported by the Government of Canada.

An invisible and underreported issue

Intimate partner violence (IPV) tends to happen behind closed doors, and there may not be signs obvious to people outside the household. Brain injury is often just as invisible, causing lifelong symptoms and challenges, but with no outward signs of disability. Clinicians may also not ask about intimate partner violence in their practice.

IPV is also extremely underreported. This happens for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Shame and stigma associated with IPV;
  • Fear of not being believed;
  • Desire to keep the family together, and;
  • A lack of recognition as to what constitutes abuse, causing victims to think it’s normal

Many women who have experienced a brain injury from IPV aren’t even aware that the challenges they face are related to a brain injury, which makes it much harder to receive a diagnosis or timely treatment. Also, research in Canada and elsewhere has shown that front line service providers lack knowledge and training/awareness about brain injury [7]. It’s a difficult, terrifying situation. Support from friends, family, and local resources can make all the difference, although in some cases, women may lack family support..

Effects of intimate partner violence (IPV) and brain injury

Intimate partner violence (IPV) and brain injury can each cause significant, long-term challenges, but when someone experiences both, the effects may intensify, and become more complex.

IPV is linked to lasting psychological trauma. Emotional disturbances such as complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression are common.

Brain injury survivors can suffer some of the same issues, along with a range of cognitive, physical and behavioural changes.

Effects of brain injury can include:

  • Difficulty communicating
  • Memory problems
  • Reduced judgement and problem-solving skills
  • Shortened attention span and inability to concentrate
  • Inability to initiate tasks or activities
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue

This is a small example of the kinds of effects people with brain injury can experience. And it can further be compounded by the cause of the brain injury (or injuries). In a study of female veterans, results found that women with persistent IPV-related TBI symptoms were nearly 6 times more likely to have probable PTSD compared those with no IPV-related TBI history [8].

Both brain injury and IPV can have an impact on activities of daily living (ADLs), parenting, and court appointments/proceedings. This can be discouraging and scary, particularly for women who are single parents or engaged in custody negotiations. The more survivors; family members and friends; health care workers; and other service providers (such as lawyers and social workers) understand the effects of brain injury, the more appropriate support can be provided. 

Unfortunately, survivors of IPV and care providers commonly mistake brain injury symptoms for the emotional distress brought on by the abuse [9]. That’s why research and educational resources on brain injury and IPV are so important.

Increased risk of intimate partner violence (IPV) towards people with disabilities

Overall, women and men with disabilities have a higher risk of abuse, including from intimate partners.

According to Statistics Canada, “Canadians with a disability were more likely to be victimized in their own home, as close to 30% of violent incidents against a person with a disability occurred in their private residence.” [10]

The study dives deeper, indicating that 23% of women with a disability “experienced emotional, financial, physical or sexual violence or abuse committed by a current or former partner” in a 5-year period. This is 2 times higher than the rates of those without a disability. Women with disabilities were also more likely to experience physical violence leading to injury [11].

For individuals who have a disability (brain injury or otherwise), the increased risk of physical violence can lead to further or new injury. This could lead to an even higher risk of violence – and the cycle goes on.

This is yet another indicator that supports for women with brain injury and experiencing IPV are essential.

Assessment by a physician

If you, or someone you know, have been hit on the head, face, or neck, or have been choked or strangled, it is important to access medical care as soon as possible, and request that health care providers look for indications of brain injury. If you are not able to see a medical professional, speak to a social worker, support worker at a shelter or a brain injury support worker.

The earlier a brain injury is diagnosed, the earlier a treatment plan can be put in place. When you do meet with a doctor, it’s important to tell them if you have ever been struck on the head or neck. 

Signs of a recent or more serious injury include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Neck pain
  • Seizure
  • Vision changes
  • Weakness or feelings of tingling or burning in the arms or legs [12]

Additional signs of brain injury may include, but are not limited to:

  • Balance problems
  • Headaches
  • Emotional lability
  • Fatigue
  • Memory issues
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Trouble speaking

Treatment of brain injury

Treatment for brain injury and its effects can be challenging not only because it is often misdiagnosed, but individuals who are in temporary shelters or transitional housing may not be able to access the supports and services they need for effective rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is a long-term process that involves regular appointments with various therapists and checkups with physicians.

It’s important for the person’s health and wellbeing that they access appropriate supports and services available to help them with their brain injury recovery. A good place to start is at your local brain injury association.

Support for survivors 

Resources

Dystonia

Dystonia is a movement disorder that causes the muscles to contract and spasm involuntarily. The neurological mechanism that makes muscles relax when they are not in use does not function properly. Opposing muscles often contract simultaneously as if they are “competing” for control of a body part. The involuntary muscle contractions force the body into repetitive and often twisting movements as well as awkward, irregular postures.

There are approximately 13 forms of dystonia, and dozens of diseases and conditions include dystonia as a major symptom.

Dystonia may affect a single area of the body or be present throughout multiple muscle groups. Dystonia affects men, women, and children of all ages and backgrounds.

Secondary dystonias are caused by diseases and traumas. Secondary dystonias are much more prevalent than the primary forms (where dystonia is the root health concern). When the dozens of diseases that can cause dystonia such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Multiple Sclerosis are considered, the number of dystonia cases can be propelled into the millions.

Dystonia causes varying degrees of disability and pain, from mild to severe. There is presently no cure, but multiple treatment options exist and scientists around the world are actively researching new therapies.

Dystonia is a chronic disorder, but most dystonia cases do not impact cognition, intelligence, or shorten a person’s life span. The main exception to this is dystonia that occurs as a symptom of another disease or condition that already exists.

Causes of dystonia

Categorizing dystonia by the cause is not a simple task and can easily get complicated because scientists have not yet identified the precise biochemical process in the body that triggers the symptoms. This is often referred to as the “mechanism” of dystonia, and it is suspected that this mechanism is common to all forms of dystonia.

On the other hand, we do know that dystonia can occur as a result of trauma, certain medications, and mutated genes. So, we may say that the mutated DYT1 gene or physical trauma cause dystonia, but these explanations do not address the true origin of the dystonia and what happens inside the body to produce the symptoms.

When describing dystonia by the cause, it may be characterized as primary, secondary, or dystonia-plus.

Diagnosing dystonia

Currently there is no single test to confirm the diagnosis of dystonia. Instead, the diagnosis depends on a physician’s ability to observe symptoms of dystonia and obtain a thorough patient history. Doctors must be able to recognize the physical signs and be familiar with the symptoms. In certain instances, tests may be ordered to rule out other conditions or disorders. The kind of physician who is typically in the best position to diagnose dystonia is a movement disorder neurologist.

The dystonia diagnostic process may include:

  • Patient history
  • Family history
  • Laboratory studies such as blood and urine tests, and analysis of cerebrospinal fluid
  • Electrical recording techniques, such as electromyography (EMG) or electroencephalography (EEG)
  • Genetic testing for specific forms of dystonia
  • Other tests and screenings intended to rule out other conditions or disorders

Dystonia prognosis

Dystonia does not define who you are. People with all forms of dystonia have been able to pursue education, work, remain independent and active, form romantic relationship, build families, and live full lives. Individuals may have to adjust activities and lifestyle to incorporate dystonia, but it must be stressed that having this disorder does not define who you are.

Dystonia includes a wide variety of symptoms and characteristics, and each person with dystonia is unique. At this time, there is no way to predict the prognosis of the disorder. Most cases of primary dystonia (both generalized and focal forms) will usually stabilize within five years of onset. Even when stabilized, symptoms may fluctuate. For example, stressful situations may make symptoms temporarily worse. Currently, no medication or therapy can prevent progression from happening. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can often minimize the impact of symptoms and improve or maintain a person’s ability to function in everyday activities.

Dystonia treatments

Although there is presently no cure for dystonia, multiple treatment options are available. Because every person with dystonia is unique, treatment must be highly customized to the individual. No single strategy will be appropriate for every case.

The treatment options for dystonia generally consists of several approaches:

  • Non-drug therapies
  • Oral medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Voice/speech therapy
  • Botulinum toxin injections
  • Surgery
  • Complementary therapies

The information for this page was written and provided by the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation

Exercise after brain injury

Many people may be nervous to try exercising after brain injury in case they make their symptoms worse. But when you start slowly, complete your exercises safely and listen to your body, it can have a lot of benefits for your brain health. This is the reason many health professionals make recommendations for physical activity as part of a brain injury recovery plan.

Please note: You should always consult with your doctor or primary care physician about what exercises are appropriate for you. Not all exercises or exercise programs will be safe or effective for you.

The benefits of exercise after brain injury

Improved mood

Regular exercise that increases the heart rate can cause the release of serotonin and dopamine, which help alleviate feelings of depression [1]. Endorphins from exercises are also associated with improved mood [2].This means that exercise can actually help make you feel happier.

Support for brain healing & function

Studies into the effects of exercise on brain injury survivors have shown that individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI) who exercised, had fewer cognitive, physical, and emotional symptoms [3]. Additional reviews of existing studies demonstrated that physical exercise also has a positive effect on cognitive functioning [4,5]. This includes thought processing and memory. According to research [6], the physiological factors of exercise that contribute to improvements in cognition include:

  • Increased blood flow to the brain
  • Changes in the brain involved in cognitive behaviour

Support for bodily health & well-being

The main purpose of exercise for the majority of people is to improve their physical health. Different types of exercises can strengthen the heart, lungs, and muscles. It’s an essential building block for a healthy lifestyle.

Exercise comes in many forms – you don’t have to be at the gym to be healthy, and you don’t have to exercise for hours at a time. The health benefits come from being consistently active in your day to day life to the best of your ability. Walking or stretching can be as beneficial as strenuous activities: it’s all dependent on what your body is able to do and what it needs.

The challenges of exercising after a brain injury

After a brain injury, you may face some challenges when it comes to exercise:

  • Changes in physical capacity and mobility
  • A lack of motivation, interest or energy
  • Symptoms such as fatigue and headaches that may impact your abilities
  • A lack of access to appropriate physical rehabilitation, exercise space or appropriate equipment
  • Not enough support

While these definitely are challenges, that does not mean it’s impossible for you to exercise and receive the benefits. It just means that you may have to get creative.

Physical rehabilitation

Physical rehabilitation (physiotherapy) is one of the most common therapies for people of all abilities. It can be helpful for people with brain injury who are experiencing challenges with mobility, strength, balance, and cardiovascular fitness. A physiotherapist will perform an assessment and work directly with you to develop a treatment plan based on your challenges and your goals. The treatment plan will largely consist of exercises or physical motions that will be modified to your needs so that you can replicate them at home. It may be recommended that you continue the exercises at home to the best of your ability either on your own or under someone else’s guidance.

There are both private and public physiotherapy practices, and you may be covered for some of the costs through your provincial/territorial insurance plan, a private insurance plan, or an auto insurance plan (depending on the cause of your injury and type of coverage).

Types of exercises

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise can also be known as cardio: in other words, any type of exercise that strengthens the cardiovascular system (your heart and lungs) [7]. Types of aerobic exercises include walking, running, cycling, or swimming. Aerobic exercises are meant to increase your heart rate, and are done for longer periods of time on a consistent basis.

A 12-week study on the effects of aerobic exercise on depression symptoms in those with traumatic brain injury (TBI) found that participants had higher self-esteem, improved cardiovascular function, and fewer symptoms of depression [8].

Aerobic exercise is often connected to a healthier heart, but it has tremendous effects on body and brain health as well. Check with your doctor to make sure you understand what you are able to do safely for exercise. You may not be able to go for a run, but you could go for a walk.

If you need some extra support for your aerobic exercise, there are assistive mobility devices that may be helpful.

Strength & conditioning exercise

For individuals with muscle weakness, strength and conditioning exercises after brain injury can be incredibly beneficial. Types of exercises that can help with strength and conditioning include resistance training, which can include using body weight or using free weights.

The key to strength and endurance training is patience. You don’t want to push yourself too hard or too quickly. Working with a physiotherapist or occupational therapist on a recovery program can be beneficial and help you progress safely.

Range of motion exercise

Range of motion (ROM) exercises can also be called flexibility and mobility exercises. Depending on the physical effects of your injury, you may be experiencing problems with your muscles or joint tightness. The purpose of ROM exercises is to help increase muscle flexibility and joint mobility. With time and patience, these types of exercises can help you move more easily (such as lifting your arms or bending your legs).

Balance exercise

Many individuals struggle with balance after brain injury. Balance is the ability to keep yourself centered.  Specific exercises can help you work on your balance and make you feel steadier as you move through your day.

Remember – any exercise is a gradual process. You may be feeling good one day, and not as great the next. And that is totally normal – the important thing is to take it slow and not get discouraged.


See sources

How to cope with COVID-19 pandemic fatigue

COVID-19 has changed life as we know it on a global scale, and we’re all tired. We want to be able to hug our families, be with our friends, or go to our appointments and feel safe.

You’ve probably heard a lot of people say they’re ‘so done’ with COVID-19. You might have even had this thought yourself. You are not alone. The feeling of being exhausted by COVID-19 and ‘done’ with everything related to COVID-19 is called COVID-19 fatigue.

As tough as it’s been and as real as COVID-19 pandemic fatigue is, now is not the time to give up. It’s incredibly important to continue following health and safety measures for our health and the health of others so that the pandemic will come to an end.

Methods to cope with COVID-19 pandemic fatigue

While you can’t fully eliminate COVID-19 pandemic fatigue, there are ways you can cope with it.

Build enjoyable routines

Routines can help reduce stress and guesswork. If you already know what you’re going to be doing in the morning and evening, you don’t have to worry about planning/decision-making as you go.

There’s also something comforting about having a routine that is predictable during uncertain times. There’s not a lot we can control right now. Our household routines provide us with some stability.

Embrace your feelings in a safe space

This pandemic is challenging and generates a lot of emotions. You may find it overwhelming and frustrating trying to express yourself. You may also choose to try and suppress your emotions because facing them feels so challenging.

Find a safe space in your home where you can express your emotions freely and safely. This may mean writing them down, listening to a certain type of music, or even talking to yourself out loud. Here are a few ways you can safely express challenging emotions.

Treat yourself with self-care activities

We all need some special treatment – that includes special treatment from ourselves. Self-care is doing something that is purely for your own health and well-being. Here are some ideas to help you get started on your self-care journey.

Practice positive affirmations

In stressful times like a pandemic, it’s easy to get caught thinking negatively all the time. This can be particularly true if you are experiencing disruptions to your treatment/recovery.

Try to disrupt that negative thinking by practicing positive affirmations. Look in a mirror and recite some positive things about yourself or your situation.

If you need some help getting started, here are some positive affirmations you can try.

Take care of yourself with exercise, healthy diet, and mindfulness

Exercising, eating healthy foods, and paying attention to your mental health will make you feel your best. When you feel your best, you will feel more equipped to handle COVID-19 pandemic fatigue.

Talk to others

While we may have to limit our interactions with others, that doesn’t mean you can’t find creative ways to stay in touch with your friends and families. There’s video calls, emails, texting, and phone calls.

When you do talk to your friends or family members, don’t be afraid to talk about what you’ve been experiencing. Ask the other person whether they are in a position to listen to you talk about what’s on your mind. If they say yes, let them know how you’re feeling.

Make sure you respect the other person’s boundaries and needs when you’re having these conversations.

Minimize your interactions with news and social media

While it’s important to stay informed about COVID-19, health and safety measures, and vaccination updates, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the information.

Choose a couple of reliable, reputable sources for COVID-19 information, and limit your news and social media time if it’s causing stress.

Ways to motivate yourself to keep following COVID-19 safety protocols

The COVID-19 pandemic will come to an end. While it’s hard to see that right now, the more we commit to the safety measures, the sooner the pandemic will be over. Here are some tips to help you stay motivated.

Focus on why you’re following safety measures

The safety measures are in place to protect you and others. If you’re having trouble staying motivated to follow them, think about the people you are protecting by following the rules. Your family and friends (particularly those with health issues that are high risk) need people like you.

Follow your local or provincial public health authority protocols

There’s a lot of changing information as the COVID-19 situation develops. This can be confusing and frustrating. As a result, there is also a lot of misinformation being shared on the internet.

Your city or province will have a health authority that publishes the most reputable, up to date information. Use their guidelines for safety measures.

Keep necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) in key areas

When Canadians are in public spaces, we have to use personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and plastic visors. In order to make sure you always have access to PPE, hand sanitizer, and other safety tools, keep them in key areas. This includes your entryway and your vehicle.

You can even make up little kits in plastic zip bags with everything you need to grab and go.

Set goals for after the pandemic that you can work towards now

After the pandemic, there will be more opportunities to visit people, go on trips, or just spend time out in public. If you have something you want to do, once the pandemic is over, start working towards it now. For example, if there’s a place you want to go, you can start saving money for it now during the pandemic.
 

Coping with the fear of COVID-19

COVID-19 has been with us for a long time now. While we can all do our best to follow the safety protocols in our area, much of the pandemic is outside of our control. A lack of control can be incredibly scary – particularly if you are in recovery.

How anxiety & fear of COVID-19 can impact you

The COVID-19 pandemic has generated a lot of fear and anxiety for people. Examples can include:

  • Fear of getting sick
  • Fear of being alone
  • Fear of loved ones getting sick
  • Fear of the virus impacting your brain injury
  • Fear of the unknown

You could be experiencing one or more of these fears as a result of the pandemic – particularly as this has been a long-term and stressful situation.

Resilience is sometimes exhausting. I began noticing symptoms of anxiety and depression

This is an enormously intense situation, and it is normal to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression. You may notice some of the following symptoms:

  • Changes in your mood
  • Changes in your sleeping or eating patterns
  • Difficulty concentrating on tasks
  • Difficulty coping with stress
  • Fatigue
  • You get angry or impatient quickly

These symptoms are also common after brain injury, and can be made worse by stressful situations – such as a pandemic.

Coping with fear & anxiety related to COVID-19

Build a routine you can control

Building a routine that you can control can help ease your fears about the things you can’t control. It can provide a sense of calm. It’s as simple as making breakfast, or setting a time limit on the computer, or even a regular afternoon walk.

Find and follow the current COVID-19 safety recommendations

It has added a lot of anxiety to my life. It is stressful trying to remember all the rules

It’s challenging to keep up with the rules and regulations put in place, particularly as there are so many sources of information out there. It can add another layer of stress.

Your local health authority (or provincial government) regularly updates their safety guidelines, and they are the most reliable source for current information.

If you aren’t sure whether the information you are looking at is accurate, ask a friend or family member to confirm the information with you.

Identify and confront what causes you stress

While you can’t control the pandemic, you can identify and manage other sources of stress in your life. When you start feeling stressed or fearful, think about what you were doing before you experienced those feelings.

Were you doing the dishes? Reading something? Scrolling through social media? By remembering what caused you fear or stress, you can either make sure to avoid it in the future, ask for help, or (if it’s something that must be done), pick a different time of the day to do it.

It’s important to find constructive ways to manage stress that work for you.

Minimize your news and social media exposure

While it’s important to stay informed about what’s going on, it seems that everyone is talking about the pandemic. And that can be incredibly overwhelming, and makes it hard to focus on the positive.

By setting limits on your social media time and restricting how much you read the news, you can give yourself breaks from reading/hearing about COVID-19.

Practice positive affirmations

It’s easy to get stuck in a loop of negative thoughts, and it’s hard to get it out of it. One way you can take care of yourself is practicing positive affirmations.

Positivity takes practice and patience. Here are some articles that can help you get started.

Reach out to your support people

Isolation is unfortunately a common occurrence after brain injury and during the pandemic. Even though it’s not possible to see people as we normally do, it’s important to stay as connected as possible.

This means reaching out regularly to friends, family members or caregivers through email, instant messaging, phone calls or video chats.

Free mental health & daily living apps

Many people are spending more time on their computers and phones as the world shifts to digital communication and services. This means that web-based supports and tools are expanding – including mental health and daily living apps for smartphones and tablets.

Many mental health and daily living apps are designed to help people self-manage difficulties with mental health and daily activities. They can be helpful tools for people with brain injury.

These apps are not meant to be a replacement for therapy with qualified health professionals. If you find that an app, or a combination of apps, is not meeting your needs, talk do your doctor about other treatment options.

How to choose an app

The Mental Health Commission of Canada published a helpful infographic about what factors you should consider when selecting and using a mental health application. This can also be used for choosing other apps. Factors you should consider include:

  • Effectiveness
  • Usability
  • Security/Privacy
  • Purpose of the app
  • Inclusion
  • Price
  • Transparency

For more details, check out the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s infographic.

Mental health & daily living apps for Canadians

While there are many apps available to download, we’ve included a small selection here to get you started. Please keep in mind that you may be asked to make an account in order to login and use the application. While all the applications we have included here are free to download, they may offer additional features for a fee once you are in the app. They may also keep and use your personal information. 

CanPlan

Cost: Free

This app is specifically designed to help people with cognitive challenges complete tasks. It allows you to break a task into different steps, add photos for each step, provides audio prompts, and even lets you make task schedules.

CanPlan is one of the several apps developed by the CanAssist organization from the University of Victoria in British Columbia. These apps are designed to support independent daily living for individuals with disabilities.

Colorfy

Cost: Free, with in-app purchases

This app is an example of a digital colouring app. This can be a soothing activity. It can be done using your finger, so you don’t need any extra tools or space.

Happify

Cost: Free, with in-app purchases

Happify is an app that works to build a variety of positivity-related skills through activities and habits. Happify also has several built-in accessibility features.

You can find it in the Apple or Android app stores.

HealthyMinds

Cost: Free

This is an app specifically designed for students who are balancing life and school. It includes activities for calming down and managing stress.

Hope by CAMH

Cost: Free

Developed by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, this Canadian app is a suicide prevention toolkit that includes crisis resources. Users are able to create a personal safety plan in consultation with others, and access this plan whenever they need it.

MindShift

Cost: Free

MindShift is a free app that uses cognitive behaviour therapy strategies to help provide anxiety relief. It was built by and designed for Canadians. It includes features such as check-ins, symptom tracking, quick relief supports, and goal setting.

Nature Soundscapes

Cost: Free, with in-app purchases

Nature Soundscapes can be helpful in developing a healthy sleep routine by playing non-stop nature sounds.

RootD

Cost: Free, with in-app purchases

Panic attacks can be a common occurrence for people experiencing mental health and anxiety challenges. RootD is designed to help with panic attacks as they happen.

Virtual Hope Box

Cost: Free

This app is a grounding tool that has a variety of activities to help with relaxation and coping. These activities can be customized with content that the individual user chooses, such as family photos.

What’s Up?

Cost: Free

What’s Up? is an app that includes cognitive behavioural therapy strategies to help a person cope with mental health challenges.