News of an impending third wave is probably not what you wanted to hear right now. Especially after a whole year of COVID-related restrictions. The threat of more contagious coronavirus variants has already contributed to a rise in cases in many provinces.

There’s still lots of uncertainty about how this third wave will play out. Vaccination campaigns are underway, offering hope for ending or curbing the pandemic. Vaccination rollout plans vary by province or territory. You can find out if you’re eligible for vaccination on the Government of Canada’s website

While the pandemic first took many of us by surprise, we know much better what to expect by now. All this pandemic ‘experience’ makes it easier to adapt to changes, like the potential re-closure of schools and businesses. So, you likely already have a plan in place.

It may be reassuring to remember some of the hard-won lessons of the past year. And to focus on things you can continue to do to keep yourself, your family and community members safe.

1. Acknowledge that pandemic fatigue is real

A year into the pandemic, you may be tired of social distancing, virtual classrooms and working from home. If you’re feeling anxious, fearful or rundown, you’re not alone.

A recent Sun Life survey found that 60% of Canadians are experiencing mental health issues. Over half of people who are struggling report not having sought medical support. If you are experiencing mental health concerns like anxiety, stress or depression, help is available.

  • Need help finding a mental health professional near you? Lumino Health’s Provider Search tool puts top-rated health-care providers at your fingertips.

You might feel empowered knowing that your actions can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep your family safe. Until health experts say otherwise, continue to:

  • Wear a mask in enclosed public spaces and you can’t keep a 2 meter/6 foot distance between yourself and others;
  • Keep social distancing. Health Canada still encourages Canadians to minimize close contact with others.

2. Upgrade your stay-at-home workspace and get moving

If you haven’t already, set up a dedicated workspace for longer-term remote work. That way, it’s easier to leave the “office” when work is done. And it is likely easier to keep your focus if you aren’t alone during work hours.

Make sure you’ve got the essentials like:

  • an office chair that allows you to sit comfortably all day,
  • a work surface that allows you to access your keyboard by keeping your elbow at a 90 degree angle,
  • and secure, virtual access to the apps and programs you need.

With a more sedentary lifestyle and gyms still closed in many places, you may be in poorer shape. Remember to schedule movement in your daily schedule. It could be a walk over lunch or online fitness classes before starting the day.

3. Take advantage of the warmer Spring weather

After a long winter, getting outside to enjoy the warmer weather could do wonders for morale. Instead of planning yet another Zoom call with loved ones, why not enjoy a socially-distanced walk to catch up? Or, where the rules allow, gather at the park for a socially-distanced picnic? Just make sure to have only members of one household per blanket and keep 2 meters between blankets.

Check with your provincial or territorial government to see if small gatherings are allowed in your area. Continue to wear a mask when it’s impossible to keep a 2-meter distance with others in busier outdoor areas like trails, playgrounds and dog parks. And avoid crowded areas where distancing is impossible like popular beaches or lookout points.

4. Plan, prepare and eat healthy food

The days of panic buying are (thankfully) behind us. We don’t know if the third wave could cause shortages. So you could choose to stock up on (but not hoard or over-buy) pantry essentials.

If you’d rather not face the crowds, you can sign up for grocery delivery if it’s available in your area. Most stores also offer curbside pick-up, so no need to leave your car. You can plan ahead for weekly or biweekly grocery runs to minimise your time in-store. Reach out to older loved ones, too, to help them come up with a plan to get essentials.

5. Take care of yourself

We don’t yet know how lockdowns will look during the third wave. But chances are you’ll still be spending a lot of time at home. Pick a lockdown project to stay productive, and pick up the supplies you need to carry it out.

Only keep up with popular social media fads like baking your own bread or learning a new language if you want to. Try to keep doing at least some of the activities you love from life before COVID-19.

6. Make the most of your employee benefits

COVID-19 shaped our new take on work, and employers want to continue to support their workforce through it all. Your employer is likely well-versed in the need for flexibility in your work arrangements by now.

Look into other employee benefits that can support your continued well-being, as well. Do your benefits include an Employee Assistance Program? This can give you access to mental health-care services, like e-therapy or virtual counselling.

Financial health benefits, like access to an advisor, can help you manage your money and stick to your financial goals throughout the pandemic.

Remember: while the prospect of a third wave may feel scary or discouraging, you’ve weathered a year of pandemic already. Take heart that better days are ahead.