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Building Bridges by Cheryl Dizon-Reynante    

Back to school and work during a pandemic

by Cheryl Dizon-Reynante

Seeing friends and family, going shopping, eating at restaurants – don’t these things sound familiar? Over the summer, we have been able to do more of our favourite things as Manitoba saw new COVID-19 case numbers decrease and vaccination rates increase. This led to the lifting of the tough restrictions that we experienced during the winter and spring.

As we head into the fall with mask mandates for indoor public settings and a sweeping vaccine mandate requiring people to show proof of vaccination to access amenities like restaurants, gyms, and sporting events, all of us are looking for some sense of a new normal.

This time of adjustment also includes for some, heading back into the workplace after working from home, and going back to school for kids, teens, and university students. However, change and transitioning back to how we used to do things can be challenging.

Here are a few tips that can help to make this transition successful while keeping people safe:

  1. As a family, talk about what the new routine will be like. When there is a lot of uncertainty, our anxiety levels can spike. Having a routine and a plan can ease the worry. Try having a calendar and To-Do list out in the open for everyone to see and review frequently.
  2. Start regular and healthy sleep patterns as soon as possible, even on the weekends. When we have a good night’s sleep, we are better able to function the next day and immediately start the day off on the right foot.
  3. Keep tabs on public health recommended guidelines. During this pandemic, we have learned that things can change very quickly. Don’t spend all day listening to the news but have a sense of how your local communities are doing. This will help you to prepare for the possibility of change.
  4. Commute safely. When using public transportation, wear a mask and use hand sanitizer often. If possible, walk or bike to work and school.
  5. Make it a practice to screen yourself and household members for COVID-19 symptoms every morning. If feeling unwell, stay home.
  6. At work, limit exposure to others whenever you can. For example, virtual meetings can continue rather than meeting in a crowded space. Use lunch and coffee breaks to go for a walk with a co-worker. This can be a great way to de-stress and get some exercise in.
  7. Role model effective calming behaviours such as deep breathing, logical problem solving and positive self-talk. Children tend to cope as well as their parents do. If they see that adults around them are calm, this will ease their worries.
  8. Adults must also take good care of themselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. This will foster healthy coping skills and develop patience for others. We cannot give to others what we ourselves do not have.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

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

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