MHW news to provide you with wellness resources during the COVID-19 outbreak




March 2020


The sudden transition to remote work for the vast majority of employees at McGill – together with many other workplaces - presents both challenges and opportunities. In addition to the work transition, we are all grappling with new considerations to maintain our own health and well-being and that of our loved ones. As we practice distancing to flatten the curve, we must adapt to evolving priorities and circumstances. Some of us now have our children at home, are looking after loved ones, feel concerned about family at a distance, or may be feeling isolated while working remotely.


McGill’s My Healthy Workplace network and the Health & Well-Being and Organizational Development teams in Human Resources have prepared this special issue of MHW News to share a collection of resources, carefully curated for McGill employees, to provide support from reliable sources.


The topics encompass the primary pillars of wellness to help you adjust to, and hopefully even thrive in, this new working environment. Let’s seize opportunities to stay connected with each other, to support our mental health and to care for our physical health.


MHW and HR wish you well during these unprecedented times and encourage you to be kind to yourself and others, to stay safe, and to stay connected. 

Resources for Staying Connected 


During this time of self isolation, it is important to maintain relationships. We can continue to build these through technology by videoconferencing, sending messages of support to co-workers or calling people on the phone. Get creative and have fun by playing online board games with colleagues. Other ideas include having morning coffee check-ins with your team, scheduling a virtual lunch date with a colleague, or hosting a virtual party with friends. Be sure to continue to celebrate birthdays and milestones with your team.  


Here are some upcoming virtual groups:

  • McGill NS Social Boardgame lunches: Contact Ray Stevens
  • A Virtual Meditation: Contact Lana Kobeici
  • A Virtual Tea, hosted by Rachel Desjourdy, Accessibility Advisor: McGill employees living with chronic illness, employees with disabilities, and their allies are invited to join Rachel for a virtual tea time: Sign-up here

Working from Home With Kids


For millions of parents, new working conditions include working alongside children. Although every environment, parenting style, and child is unique, here are some words of advice from other Canadian working parents working from home including how to keep their kids connected to learning. 


There are various free offerings to entertain, educate and keep children moving. Here are just a few:


Mental Health Resources

During this time of uncertainty, there are a variety of possible psychological symptoms we may experience. More details on these symptoms are outlined in this fact sheet including ways to take care of yourself and when and how to seek help. Similarly, in this webcast, McGill experts discuss how to manage anxiety during a pandemic. Please be reminded that the Employee and Family Assistance Program is a support service available to you. They offer counselling services, and resources available specifically for the current reality of the COVID-19 outbreak. Login to learn more.


Mindfulness & Meditation

Research has shown that mindfulness can decrease stress and anxiety. The Health and Well-Being webpage has resources such as apps and videos to help you begin experiencing greater mindfulness, or grow deeper into your practice.  


Quarantine Mental Health Checklist


Here are some strategies to assist in reframing and managing stress and anxiety during periods of isolation.


Limiting News Consumption


It is important to stay informed during these times, but the Mental Health Commission of Canada suggests that we need to be selective on how we consume news surrounding COVID-19 to protect our mental health.



Creating a Routine


We have all experienced a shift in our normal routine, however our emotional health is strongly affected by our routines which keep us organized, and give us a sense of achievement and accomplishment. This resource provides guidance on how you can effectively work remotely and set boundaries between home and office.

Physical Well-Being Resources


Staying active, ensuring proper set-up of your physical work space, and eating well are important physical aspects to consider in order to maintain your well-being during self-isolation.


Staying Active 


With limited opportunities for movement in our daily commute to the home office and with gyms, fitness centres and yoga studios temporarily closed, it can be a challenge to incorporate physical activity into our routine. However, the many benefits of exercise to our mental health includes the reduction of anxiety and depression symptoms and the improvement of our mood which are so important during these uncertain times. The Health and Well-Being website has many online resources to help you get your daily dose of physical activity at home. Review this page for physical activity apps, guidelines and video links for yoga and exercise that you can do at home. If possible, avoid sitting for extended periods of time by going for walks outside, or taking walk breaks around your home.  



The International Committee of the Red Cross shares an important message to be K.I.N.D during the coronavirus outbreak: 

K: Keep in touch with Family and Friends

 I: Inform others if you have any symptoms

N: Never ignore your health

D: Don’t panic. We are in this together


Work Station Set-up


It is very important to assess your work station set-up in order to reduce discomfort, pain and risk of injury. Visit the Health and Well-Being website for recently added resources on good posture while working from home. It now includes information on how to request a virtual ergonomic assessment, to help ensure that your home workstation is set up to be as comfortable as possible.


Eating Well


Eating healthy foods can help us feel better. As much as possible, choose more fruits and vegetables, and stay hydrated by drinking lots of water! The Dietitians of Canada has put together helpful advice about nutrition and dietary issues related to the Coronavirus outbreak. If you need cooking inspiration, Cookspiration provides recipe ideas served up to suit your mood and schedule.


A Final Message from My Healthy Workplace


What are you doing to manage your mental and physical health during self-isolation? Our MHW team is: 

  • Having daily team check-in’s
  • Meditating
  • Taking daily walks
  • Face-timing with loved ones 

What will you do today? We’d love to see you in action! Please share your story, and we will share it in the next newsletter with the rest of the community.


We want to hear from you!


This newsletter is for staff by staff. Send the MHW News editorial team an email to let us know what you think of this issue. Please contact us to suggest an initiative to highlight, or if you are interested in sharing a story.






My Healthy Workplace