Covert Ottawa Weekly Newsletter: The Mental Health Edition

Good morning! Here we are, just rolling through the lockdown, with numbers dropping, metrics improving, and vaccines flying off the shelves; the end is in sight, hopefully! Maybe lockdowns do work? It would be lovely if “we” could just keep it up. All the kids continue to be stuck at home, doing virtual learning, so the stress and extra pressure on parents also continues. This week’s edition of my newsletter is focused on mental health, and will provide some resources for stress relief.

This week, I’m changing up the format of my newsletter. My “Bits and Bytes” section will be at the beginning, and then after that, I’ll highlight some events and activities that you might be interested in! Hopefully they will help if you are experiencing the blues. It’s a bit of a longer read this week, and as the topic is more serious than my typical posts, I’ve added fewer cartoons and distractions. ?

Before I dive in, I want to give a shoutout to a Covert Ottawa Guy favourite, Cooper Dunn, who you’ve read about in my reviews of Falsettos, and Matilda, both performed by Orpheus. Last week, he was awarded the Broadway World Regional 2020 Awards for “Dancer of the Decade” as well as “Performer of the Decade” for his role in Falsettos. You can read my review of that show by clicking here. Congratulations Cooper, well deserved!

Bits and Bytes

This is my random story and features section. These topics don’t necessarily have anything to do with Ottawa. It could include stories about current news issues, sports, funny videos, and/or perhaps just random things that I’ve discovered over the previous week. I hope you enjoy!


Public Service Announcement for Men:

Before I jump into the meat and potatoes (or tofu and potatoes for us vegi-sauruses), I just wanted to sound the alarm for all the male folk reading this blog. You have roughly 3 weeks until Valentines’ day!! Get on it, or suffer the consequences!



January is wrapping up this week; it’s no secret that we’ve hit the mid-point of winter, and often the hardest time of the year for people with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). I know I suffer from this, and I know that it gets worse as the winter drags on. In its simplest form, this disorder is caused by less daylight, and less outdoor activity. Our instinct to hibernate during the winter is the root cause, as our bodies and minds tend to just want to hide from the winter. This can lead to depression for those of us who suffer from the condition. Throw in another factor such as…well, a pandemic that forces us to avoid social interactions, and many people are hooped. Mental health is not just a topical subject to read about these days, and it is definitely not new. As mental health professionals work to reduce the stigma around it, mental health is becoming more widely discussed- and this is a great thing.

I found this little article in Wired magazine, written as an informative piece about mental health during a pandemic. It’s a good (and short!) read, and focuses on the higher-level aspects of mental health. It may not be new information for you, but if it isn’t, it is a great refresher on this important topic. Now, Wired is located in California, so granted, they don’t have the high rates of SAD that we do in parts of Canada, perpetuated by frigid, snowy winters and more limited daylight. But I think that you will find the article useful, nonetheless.


Photo Cred: Getty Images


As someone who suffers from mental health issues, I understand the need for positive distractions and influences. My general goal with this blog is to provide a weekly source of entertainment for you, and to help ease any potential depressive or negative inclinations. I hope I’ve been able to do that for some of you at least. Maybe not my troll “Herry” though, I think he’s too far gone based on his comment on last week’s blog post; either that, or he’s just losing it.



As individuals, it is important to find things that make us happy, for the benefit of both ourselves and society. It’s more important now than ever before to focus on the positive aspects of our lives. In one of my Communications classes, we studied Dr. John Gottman, who states that in relationships, you need to perform five positive actions for your partner to counteract every negative one that you do (paraphrased). So, guys (yes, guys again), if you screw up, you have to do five nice things to make up for it if you want to keep your relationship together. (If you’re interested in learning about John Gottman, I suggest you check out his website: “The Gottman Institute” at ) Or, if you want to read a great article on this principle, check out “The Magic Relationship Ratio, According to Science” by Kyle Benson.

This ratio isn’t just for relationships though, it also applies to daily activities and mishaps. If you get up in the morning and see that you’ve won $10 on your LottoMax ticket, your day starts off on a positive note. But then when you go into the kitchen, and you see that the cat crapped on the floor, and you spill coffee on your white shirt, your $10 lottery winning is the furthest thing from your mind. You’re most likely annoyed at the cat and your clumsiness (or choice of shirt), when in reality, neither of those situations are all that bad. It’s 30 seconds to clean up the cat mess, and 2 minutes to find a new shirt. Dismiss the negative thoughts and try to focus on your $10 windfall!

Think about the possibilities of that win! You could open a savings account! You could put it towards another white shirt! You could buy a Venti low-fat-frappa-cappa-mixa-lotta with coconut milk and no foam, and a cake pop from Starbucks. Yeah, I know, my example is only $10, but the amount doesn’t matter, the fact that it’s a positive start to your day is where I’m going with this. Focus on that, hold onto it, and your mood will improve. You might even find yourself smiling at the barista at Starbucks while you’re paying for the order, and perhaps they will smile back, which can brighten your day. The power of a smile is a topic for another post, but it goes a really long way. And yes, I know people are wearing masks, but a true smile includes the whole face, not just your mouth.


Photo Cred: Foodbeast

Not everyone starts their day by winning the lottery, sometimes those little positives need to be found in your daily activities. They’re really not hard to find though, if you’re open to acknowledging them. Have a good attitude when you wake up, and you’ll see how many great things there are around you, even in the darkest hours of winter.  Try to do things that bring you happiness, that don’t bring you down. It’s so important not to dwell on insignificant negatives that you may encounter in a day; instead, hype the little positives up in your mind and celebrate each as a little victory. You’ll find that your outlook on life can dramatically improve, and with it, your days will also get better.


Look at that bow. I tied that!


 In the events section of this week’s blog, I’ve chosen to highlight some events that you should consider that may be helpful in boosting your spirits and allowing you to live more positively.

However, it doesn’t have to be events and activities that bring up your spirits. Just taking the time to unwind and have a laugh can make a dramatic difference in your mood and help to offset the winter blues. Here’s my video of the week….it really put a smile on my face. It’s an older one, but I love it. The music in the back ground is fantastic.


No Events, No Problem

I’ve mentioned previously that when the first lockdown began last spring, there was pretty much nothing to do for anyone. The world hadn’t adapted yet to the need for virtual entertainment, but we sure learned in a hurry. Many industries weren’t able to set up virtual events for significant revenue streams, but some continue to rely on this new medium to help stay afloat. Fortunately, expenses are down too. This week, I want to feature a couple of businesses who are still able to provide some entertainment for you and your family in some cases.

Yaymaker Paint Nights

Yaymaker was previously known for setting up in-person paint nights at venues throughout the city. People would go set up and have a beer in their favourite establishments while following the host to create wonderful (or not) masterpieces. I mean really, where else other than a pub would a budding genius artist be found? We all know Davinci painted in the local tavern right? These nights are fun, and foster a sense of togetherness for people, as those participating are often beginners, or aren’t very good, and are just there to have a good time.



Now that these paint nights are no longer happening in person, Yaymaker has adapted, becoming completely virtual! You set up your canvas at home and follow along with the host to create your own work of art. Each session has a feature painting, so all of the participants are working towards the same goal. As the pandemic has progressed, there have been more and more subjects to paint. This week alone on various nights, you can choose from: A woman in a yellow dress, a coffee drinking owl, a funny pig, a squirrel in a floral crown, a galactic scene, or lavender waterfalls. That’s just THIS WEEK. Every week there are new paintings, and I can guarantee you that your favourite animal will show up in one of them.

Paint nights can give our minds something to focus on and provide us with the opportunity to relax and lose ourselves in an artistic activity. I’ve added this here in this edition, as it’s a great example of how we can escape from our reality just a little bit.

A La Carte Tours

Another way to fight off the winter blues is to head outside and embrace the season! A La Carte Tours have some really fantastic events that they plan year-round. Pandemic times have seen a bit of a shift in the schedule, but the events are still designed to get you out and about while exploring Ottawa. I’m highlighting these events as they also fall into the mental health theme of this week’s post. Despite the cold weather, it’s important to get outside and engage in activities. This week, on Sunday, A La Carte Tours is holding its weekly “Byward Market Unlocked” tour.

Take a walk through history – from the early 19th century into the early 20th century – while solving puzzles that lead you (on foot) from one historic part of the Byward Market to the next. Learn about the Market’s past and get a taste of its present, with food and beverage samples and an introduction to some of the city’s tastiest establishments. Ending at a local brewery, beer lovers may also participate in an optional taste challenge (must be 19yrs or older). – A La Carte Tours Website

This 2-hour tour offer a great opportunity to get out of the house and learn about the history of the Byward Market. It is a fascinating place! Tickets are on sale through the A La Carte Tours website.

There are of course plenty of options in Ottawa for activities, but please check with local listings to see what’s still open. Even some hills are closed now for tobogganing, such as Mooney’s Bay, as too many people were going to them, and not following physical distancing rules.

Oh, just a little reminder, there is less than a week left to vote for the annual Faces Awards! I would really appreciate your support with votes for the two categories that I’ve been nominated for: Ottawa’s Favourite Blogger, and Ottawa’s Best Organizer Promoter. They are located under the categories of “Digital/Social” and “Events/Entertainment” respectively. You can vote once a day. Thanks very much!!

Have a great week, stay healthy, and be kind to one another!

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