WATCH — Visit a VR forest for tips on how to manage COVID stress

Elijah Sandiford
Story by Elijah Sandiford and CBC Kids News • 2020-08-17 17:08

Elijah asks a doctor your questions

Wondering how to handle these stressful times?

Well, a visit to a forest can help — especially when it’s a virtual forest with a doctor on site.

CBC Kids News contributor Elijah Sandiford invited psychologist Carlton Duff with the Canadian Mental Health Association to our virtual studio to answer questions from kids about mental health.

Duff said stress levels in kids have “almost certainly” gone up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watch the video to see our VR studio transform into a lush forest, and to get advice on how to manage that stress:

What is stress?

When somebody says they’re stressed, that usually means they’re feeling “a sense of pressure,” Duff said, like something heavy is weighing down on them.

They also might be feeling anxious, or “a little bit afraid that something bad might happen.”

What can kids do to feel better?

Playing with friends is helpful, but that can be tricky to pull off during a pandemic.

Another good option — and one that you can do even in isolation — is get exercise, Duff said.

Exercise helps you feel better if you’re already stressed.

It also helps protect you from feeling stressed in the first place, he said.

There are so many unanswered questions about the future. How do we deal with those?

Zain speech bubble 1: When will the virus stop? Zara speech bubble 2: Will schools be safe? Umeshi speech bubble 3: Can I see my friends?

“This is actually a really good opportunity for kids to get used to not knowing how things are going to be,” Duff said.

Sometimes that can be scary, he said, “but the truth is, it’s not actually dangerous to not know.”

Try this exercise:

Find a quiet spot and spend some time thinking about the fact that you just don’t know what’s going to happen next, Duff said.

Let yourself feel “a little bit uncomfortable.”

“Turns out that by doing that, you’ll actually get stronger and tougher and be able to handle not knowing.”

More advice

You can find some helpful tips on how to handle fear during the pandemic in the third instalment from our VR studio.

And get advice on how to talk to family and friends about your mental health in the first instalment from our VR studio.

Wondering how to recognize depression or anxiety and what to do about it? Read more tips from Duff here.

Don’t forget that Kids Help Phone is also always an option. You can live chat, text or call the counselling service any time.

IMAGE CREDITS: (Philip Street/CBC)

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About the Contributor

Elijah Sandiford
Elijah Sandiford
CBC Kids News Contributor
You might know him as Agent Ocean on PBS’s Odd Squad or Prince Francisco in the Bruno and Boots series “This Can’t Be Happening at MacDonald Hall.” Fifteen-year-old Elijah Sandiford also has a huge passion for pop-culture, sports and content creation. After losing his father at a young age, he decided to make the most of life. His message for Canadian kids, “Dream bigger, dream brighter no matter your circumstance. The hard work you put in will take you on an exciting journey.”