The ABCs of Mental Well-being While Attending C2021

Adjusting to the ‘new normal’ of conference participation via Zoom comes with benefits as well as challenges.  While online conferences offer flexibility and increased opportunities for participation, you may also find it more challenging to stay engaged and focused given the “real world” distractions that come with working from home or the office. 

Issues arising from presentations and discussions over the course of the conference sessions may generate feelings and reactions that you would typically have the opportunity to voice, to process with others and/or to get support for from a fellow participant or conference organizer. This is obviously more difficult in the current context as participants are more isolated and do not have the same access to informal/unstructured dialogue or the health break and social moments together to debrief.

To promote meaningful engagement at the conference, mitigate “Zoom Fatigue” and enhance participant well-being over the course of the conference, you are encouraged to check in with yourself regularly to assess how you are feeling according to the ABCs of well-being:

Awareness – notice the internal signs that your level of engagement may be dwindling, or you are distracted.  

  • Notice if you feel unsettled and are having trouble concentrating  
  • Notice if you feel yourself being irritable, anxious, sleepy, or spacey  
  • Notice if you are ruminating (getting stuck on an idea/element of the content presented), projecting (ascribing your own feelings/experiences onto others); feeling the abrupt need to leave or isolate; feeling excessive anger or criticism towards the conference, the presenters, organizers/staff or fellow participants.  It is helpful to assess whether the intensity of your response feels understandable/appropriate to the circumstances or if the discussion/material presented may be triggering a more personal experience of stress/distress.
  • Notice if you find yourself doing some of your common self-soothing activities more frequently (e.g., fidgeting, doodling). This may also indicate that you are experiencing stress/distress without you even consciously noticing.
  • Notice physical and emotional responses that may occur outside of the conference hours that may include those listed above or others (trouble sleeping, changes in eating patterns, etc.)

Balancegive yourself permission to balance participation in the conference and other needs that may arise

Suggestions that you might find helpful to maintain your energy level, stay engaged, and feel more settled during the conference:

  • Take time to settle comfortably (optimize your personal space as much as possible)
  • Take mini breaks
  • Keep yourself hydrated and eating well before and while participating in the daily events
  • Engage in movement of any kind – standing, stretching, relocating, etc.
  • Limit continuous stimulation (sound, light, turning off your camera on occasion, etc.)
  • Grounding exercises which are a great way to regain focus, and put your mind in an aware and receptive state (e.g., 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things that you can hear, 2 things that you can smell, 1 thing you can touch)
  • Self-care e.g., baths, self-reflection, yoga, meditation, music, make space for laughter and fun.

Note:  As part of C2021’s well-being program, you can take part in free Zumba (May 10), yoga (May 12) and yoga / meditation (May 14) on each morning of the conference from 930-1030 EST before the official start of the conference programming.  See below.

Connection reflect on and set up a plan to get support from other conference colleagues, friends and family as needed; depending on levels of stress/distress and their duration, explore the option of formal support from a mental health professional. 

Should you feel the need to reach out to someone immediately and do not have a person in your own circle of support available, you may wish to contact your local Distress Centre. For those residing in the Ottawa-Gatineau area, an option is to contact the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region.  In addition to responding to calls in the prescribed region, they also answer crisis calls from the Northwest Territories, throughout the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation, and to all Inuit people regardless of their location in Canada.

You can reach the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region at:

Distress: 613-238-3311 (24 hours access)

Crisis: 613-722-6914 or 1-866-996-0991 (24 hours access)

Text: 1-343-306-3550 (available 10 am – 11 pm)

Additionally, should you have a C2021 Code of Conduct concern during a session, you can either let the host know or email us at  C2021coc@evaluation.ca to report it and have it reviewed by the C2021 EDI Team. 

We hope that you find these tips helpful in having a healthy C2021 conference experience. 

Prepared by:

Claude Tellier Pyschotherapist (Q), C.C.C., Associate at the Adlerian Counselling and Consulting Group Inc., Ottawa, Ontario


Well-being Events 

Participating in an online conference can be tiring and for some, even stressful! With this in mind, we will be offering a number of well-being events during the conference, including yoga, zumba, and meditation. These will be offered at no extra cost to conference attendees. Stay tuned for more details. 

Zumba: A one of a kind virtual live Zumba class by a licensed instructor created for all levels. The dance fitness class will change the way we look at working out forever. Shimmy along with your virtual colleagues to the tune of lively music. It is fun, effective and best of all an exhilarating way to start your conference. Monday, May 10, 9:30 am EST

Yoga: A perfect way to energize your body and clear your mind with gentle movements and poses led by a certified yoga instructor. This is a unique session for anyone looking for a break from the hustle of the week or a gentle way to start the day for relaxation and stress relief. It is for everyone. Wednesday, May 12, 9:30 am EST

Yoga/Meditation: Guided by an experienced teacher, this yoga and meditation session will bring connection within you and the outer world. Set your mind free by breathing in deeply to calm your mind, and to find greater sensitivity to self and your inner voice while sitting in a comfortable position. This session is for everyone and will place you in a perfect state of mind for the last day of the conference. Friday, May 14, 9:30 am EST