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Physical Activity & Mental Wellness

Mental Health is crucial to our overall health. We know that the pandemic has been a challenging time for everyone and has brought mental health concerns to the forefront. Creating new routines and rituals, and finding ways to have fun and be active can help us to nurture our mental health now and in the future. Below you will find things to help boost your mental health as well as supports and resources for help. It’s OK to not be OK, and it’s so important to know where to go to reach out for help when you need it.

The Mental Hygiene Challenge

We have all heard of dental hygiene, and we take care of our physical bodies daily with routine care. Now it’s time to give that same time and attention to our mental health. “Like a toothbrush for your brain!” The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre has launched a new challenge to spend 10 minutes a day, every day, doing something that boosts our mental health. Journaling, time in nature, gratitude exercises, deep breathing or meditation can all help us to quiet the noise in our minds and work towards emotional well-being. Enjoy finding the activities that work best for you and make a commitment to create positive routines for life that make you feel better inside and out.

  • Limit your intake of media. Choose 1 or 2 times a day to update yourself on the latest news so you are not bombarded by a constant stream of negative information.
  • Focus on self-care by enjoying nutritious foods, being physically active and getting enough sleep. Our immune system works best when we take care of ourselves.
  • Assess your substance use. Many people may increase consumption of alcohol or cannabis because of excess stress or boredom. Excessive substance use can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to COVID-19. Check out Canada’s Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines to see if you are at risk.
  • Connect with friends and family over the phone or internet so you don’t feel isolated. Texting doesn’t give the same feeling of connection as seeing someone’s face or hearing their voice. There are lots of digital technologies that can help us connect while still keeping physically distant.
  • Recognize that our moods can shift frequently and it’s normal to be fine one day then not so much the next. Take the time to validate your feelings and practice self-care in a way that supports your mental well-being.

There are people ready to help you.

  • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
    • Or text CONNECT to 686868
  • Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Addictions and Mental Health Crisis Line: 1-866-281-2911.
    • Anyone who has questions, needs access to services, or is feeling anxious is encouraged to call the Case workers and counsellors working in close to a dozen rural offices throughout the region are also accessible through these main numbers. In addition, the following services are available:
      • Essential Services remain open including Group Homes, Co-op and Residential Treatment Facilities and Intake Screening.
      • All counselling, including Rapid Access and Case Management continue to take place by telephone.
      • Psychiatry appointments will continue through telephone contact.
      • Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Addictions and Mental Health offices are closed but employees are still working from home.
  • Lanark County Mental Health Mental Health Pandemic Helpline 1-833-283-9979 available Monday–Thursday: 8:00am–8:00pm and Friday 8:00am–4:00pm. This line is for everyone – to offer strategies and supports, without shame or judgement.
  • CMHA’s Mental Health Helpline: 1-866-531-2600
  • Good2Talk for post-secondary students: 1-866-925-5454
    • Or text GOOD2TALKON to 686868
  • A Friendly Voice – A phone line for older adults (55+) who may be feeling lonely or isolated: 1-855-892-9992 (note – this is not a crisis line)
  • Bounce Back phone and online mental health program for adults and youth ages 15 and over
    • Longer term program – needs referral from primary healthcare professional
  • Distress Centre of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville1-800-465-4442
    • Trained volunteers actively listen to your issues, focus in on your concerns and help you problem solve. Available 5:00pm–12:00am (midnight), 7 days a week.
  • If you or someone you know is in danger at home from domestic abuse, you can contact Interval House.
  • Assault Response and Care Centre provides help for anyone affected by sexual assault or domestic violence: 1-800-567-7415
  • #KnowWhereToGo – Check out these youth specific resources for mental well-being.

Resources for Children and Youth

Resources for All Ages

The COVID-19 pandemic has added to existing health inequities. This means that COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting the health and well-being of people based on their social determinants of health (e.g., income levels, housing, and experiences of social stigma). A response to COVID-19 that values and prioritizes health equity will support community resilience and well-being today, and into the future. Visit our Health Equity and COVID-19 section for more information.

Physical activity is good for the body, mind and mood, and is especially good at helping us cope with stressful situations and negative feelings.

Be sure to stay COVID-SMART while being physically active!

  • SSelf-isolate if you have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • MMask/face covering on when inside enclosed public spaces, and when outdoors in busy public spaces or whenever physical distancing is a challenge.
  • A – Avoid touching your face.
  • R – Remain 2 metres/6 feet apart from people you do not live with.
  • T – Twenty (20) seconds for regular hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette (cough or sneeze into a tissue or your arm).

For people who are NOT self-isolating:

  • Walking outside is good for your body, mind and mood. Go for a walk with people in your household (as long as you are not under quarantine or self-isolation due to illness or exposure). If you choose to walk, find a low populated area and keep your distance from others (2m/6ft). Do not approach animals, and remember to check for ticks and wash your hands when you get home.
  • Enjoy use of parks, beaches and trails that are open but respect signage for areas that are not.

In addition to being COVID-SMART, here are some other things to think about while being active outdoors or around others:

  • Step aside or pass others quickly and courteously on paths and sidewalks.
  • Use caution if touching shared surfaces (e.g., benches, playground equipment, etc.) that are permitted for use. Practice proper hand hygiene after touching shared surfaces.
  • Avoid:
    • Crowded places. If the park you choose is crowded, consider going to a different recreation space or going back at a different time of day.
    • Activities that involve physical contact.
    • Organized sports that involve large groups (e.g., soccer, baseball, etc.) and touching the same object (e.g., football, volleyball, etc.).
    • Petting other people’s dog(s) or letting other people pet your dog(s).

Individuals have a great responsibility and opportunity to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. Take your personal actions seriously to prevent the spread of the virus and be kind and considerate.

For more information on rules for recreational sports, leagues and facilities – check out the Sports and Recreation tab below.

If you are self-isolating or unable to get outside, there are some great ways to be physically active indoors as well!

  • The YMCA at Home Programs
  • Check with your local fitness or yoga studio – they may have some online options for you.
  • Have a home dance party (even if you are by yourself)
  • Use video games like “Just Dance” or Wii Fit to make physical activity fun for the family!
  • If you are working from home – try to stand up and stretch every 30 minutes and schedule in some breaks.

This webpage is a guide and does not replace provincial legislation. See O. Reg. 364/20: RULES FOR AREAS AT STEP 3 AND AT THE ROADMAP EXIT STEP for more details.


  • Complete the COVID-19 self-assessment prior to leaving home. For children under the age of 18, use the COVID-19 school and child care screening tool. Stay home and self-isolate if at least one symptom is present.
  • All spectators must wear a mask/face covering at all times while indoors.
  • Players, coaches, trainers, etc. who are indoors and not engaged in an athletic or fitness activity must wear a mask. Players, coaches, trainers, etc. who are sitting/standing in the outdoor team area (e.g., soccer bench/sideline, baseball dugout, etc.) are encouraged to be distanced (at least 2 metres) and/or wearing a mask if distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Maintain at least 2 metres of physical distance as much as possible from people you don’t live with. Physical contact is permitted while engaged in sport.
  • Any league/event that practises or plays at a facility must prepare a Safety Plan. The COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan can be used as a guide. Additional resources include this sample COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan and COVID-19 Safety Checklist. The Health Unit will not be approving plans. A league is not required to get approval from the Health Unit in order to begin play.
  • Consider limiting the number of leagues you play in to decrease the number of close contacts you may have.


  • Avoid:
    • Sharing personal items (e.g., water bottle, towel, etc.)
    • Spitting


  • Avoid carpooling with people you don’t live with as this can increase the risk of virus transmission
  • Maintain at least 2 metres of physical distance as much as possible from people you don’t live with.

League Facilitators/Sports Organizations

  • Sport and recreation organizations (e.g., clubs, associations, leagues, and teams) wishing to book facilities should follow facility protocols and guidelines, as well as establish their own publicly available sport or activity-specific guidelines for safe participation in sport/activity.
  • Those participating in organized activities sanctioned by, or affiliated with, a provincial or national sport organization should refer to and ensure they are also complying with their governing body’s guidelines, assuming they meet or exceed provincial requirements.
  • In your communication with parents/guardians/participants, encourage the completion of the COVID-19 self-assessment prior to arriving at a facility. Children under the age of 18 should use the COVID-19 school and child care screening tool. Any person with at least one symptom should not enter the facility and should self-isolate.
  • Ensure you have a COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan in place.

Facility Owner/Operator/Staff

  • A COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request.
  • Indoor facility ventilation system should be operational and appropriate for the activities practiced within. Use the highest efficiency filters possible in the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system. Facility operators may want to consult with an expert in HVAC systems for assistance.
  • Businesses/organizations are encouraged to ensure that equipment, washrooms, locker rooms, change rooms, showers and commonly touched objects (e.g., door handles, light switches, seating, debit machines, shopping carts, etc.) that are accessible to the public are cleaned and disinfected as frequently as is necessary to maintain a sanitary condition. For more information on cleaning and disinfecting high touch surfaces, see this Government of Canada resource: COVID-19: Cleaning and Disinfecting.
  • Commonly used cleaners and disinfectants are sufficient at killing COVID-19. Ensure that the disinfectant you use has an 8-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN). Refer to this Health Canada list of disinfectants with evidence of use against COVID-19. Follow manufacturer’s instructions when using cleaners or disinfectants.
  • Create and follow a cleaning procedure during each shift at the facility.

Additional Resources

The best way to help is by staying COVID-SMART and keeping up precautions.

We are all in this together. If you are well and have the ability to volunteer while staying COVID-SMART:

As many people are out of work and in need, community food programs are more important than ever.

COVID-19 has created a lot of fear for many people. In some situations, this fear has led to people being stigmatized or labelled because they have COVID-19, perceived to have it, or because they are a close contact of someone who is positive. This COVID-19 related discrimination is on par with other types such as racism, sexism, and ageism. The effects of stigmatization can be as harmful, or even more harmful, than COVID-19 itself. Not only does it impact the individual, but can impact the greater public. When there is a label or stigma attached, people may be reluctant to get tested for COVID-19 or isolate, for fear of the consequences.

Since COVID-19 is a new virus that our population doesn’t have immunity to yet, anyone has the potential to get it. So be empathic and think about how you would feel if you were treated poorly for having this virus. Kindness and compassion can go a long way, particularly during times of stress and fear.

How can we reduce fear and stigma and promote kindness and compassion?


  • Don’t post or share false information, names or identity of those affected or under isolation/quarantine.
  • Don’t spread fear and panic.
  • Don’t target health care workers or other essential workers – they are there to help you.
  • Don’t judge.
  • Don’t address people with COVID-19 as victims. Instead, choose language such as ‘’people recovering from COVID-19”.
  • Don’t attach locations or ethnicities to COVID-19.


  • Acknowledge that everyone is trying to do their best. Appreciate and support the efforts of our essential service and health care workers and their families.
  • Get and share information from credible sources only, such as from the Health Unit, Ontario Ministry of Health, Government of Canada, or the World Health Organization.
  • Think about how your words and actions can impact others.
  • Recognize the things that are within your control to protect yourself and family. Practice physical distancing and hand hygiene, limit close contacts, stay home if sick, and go out for essential reasons only.
  • Share positive stories and examples of community kindness.
  • Challenge yourself and others to do random acts of kindness.
  • Accept support from a professional, friend or someone else you trust. For help, check out the “Resources on Coping” section.
  • If you want more information on how to address social stigma and COVID-19, watch this short video.

Seniors may be more vulnerable to both the effects of a COVID-19 infection, as well as the social isolation that comes from these months of physical distancing.

Seniors’ Centres Without Walls offers the opportunity for participants to join in on health and wellness seminars, educational lectures, brain-stimulating activities, listen to live musical entertainment, join in on general conversations, and make new and meaningful friendships – all over the phone from the comfort of home! For more information, contact Rachel Sutcliffe, SCWW Coordinator, at 613-236-0428 extension 2323 or by email at [email protected]

Long-Term Care Home Visits

Follow provincial guidance for long-term care home visits.

Retirement Home Visits

Follow provincial guidance for retirement home visits.