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Building Bridges by Cheryl Dizon-Reynante    

Together we stand

Getting through the COVID-19 pandemic

by Cheryl Dizon-Reynante

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there lies so much uncertainty, worry and fear. Our routines have been disrupted and life is just not the same. But one thing that is certain is that we are all in this together. Our focus is on keeping our selves, our loved ones, neighbours, and communities as safe and healthy as possible.

Seven steps towards physical and mental wellbeing

1. Be diligent with hand washing, physical distancing, and coughing into your upper sleeve and elbow. Avoid crowds and disinfect frequently used surfaces. Cancel or postpone non-essential travel and if you are sick, stay at home. For more information, go to: https://www.covid19manitoba.ca/

2. Know that it is normal and valid to feel anxious, scared, panicked, angry, exhausted, lonely, and helpless. At other times, you might also feel generous and appreciative of others, and be assured by a sense of teamwork and co-operation in the community.

  • Everyone deals with heavy feelings differently, but it is important to acknowledge them. Try writing down your thoughts, talking to someone you trust, praying and meditating, going for a quick walk, cooking, doing a puzzle or an art project, cleaning and organizing, or exercising at home.
  • Try to find at least three things to be grateful for every day, no matter how big or small. For instance, you might think about the dedicated healthcare workers in Canada. Or you might appreciate the smile and wave you got from a neighbour.

3. Remember that you have been able to manage stress in the past. Even though this pandemic is a new situation, you have gotten through difficult times before. Draw upon these experiences.

4. Limit the sources of stress. For some, it is tempting to read and watch the news for most of the day. Limit the time you spend doing this. Keep your screen time to 1-2 hours per day, and turn off all TVs, phones, tablets and electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime.

5. Make self-care a priority. Drink enough water, eat healthy meals, wash your hands frequently, and exercise indoors. Take a quick walk to get fresh air. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, ensuring that you get enough sleep. Even if you are isolating at home, establish a routine for you and your family.

6. Stay connected with your loved ones through phone calls and video chats. If needed, reach out to resources such as health care providers, spiritual care providers and professional counsellors. Check in with anyone who might be isolated, and if you are healthy, offer to drop off groceries and supplies at their door.

  • In mid-April, Manitoba will launch the AbilitiCBT Digital Therapy Program where a professional therapist will help people with anxiety symptoms related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is accessible from home and free. For more information, go to: https://manitoba.ca/covid19/bewell/
  • On March 23, the Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba (ADAM) established a telephone support line at (204) 925-0040. People are invited to leave a message at this number and a representative will get back to them.
  • For people who are suicidal, in crisis and struggling to cope, call the 24/7 Klinic Crisis Line at (204) 786-8686.
  • The new provincial initiative www.HelpNextDoorMB.ca helps residents in greatest need, such as the elderly and disabled, to be safely matched with a volunteer and community support. Services include accessing groceries and medication, and snow clearing.

7. Stay informed. As mentioned, do not spend most of your day tuned into media broadcasts. Get your health information from reliable resources only such as:

  • www.sharedhealthmb.ca
  • www.canada.ca
  • World Health Organization: www.who.int

Let’s stand together Canadians and get through this!

Cheryl Dizon-Reynante is a licensed therapist with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association.

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