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A Gravelbourg-based counsellor gave some sound advice on ways to manage the pandemic

COVID-19 has altered the world forever. Though this menacing virus will eventually languish into history, we’ll be coping with the aftereffects of the pandemic for the stretch ahead.

COVID-19 has altered the world forever. Though this menacing virus will eventually languish into history, we’ll be coping with the aftereffects of the pandemic for the stretch ahead. Even after the desired vaccine has been attained and the economy has righted itself, COVID-19 will persist in humanity’s story for several years afterwards, remaining as a feature in political debates, pop culture and everyday discussions for decades.

Many of us are self-isolating at home and watching the pandemic’s advance. We are frightened and uncertain, even from the comfort of our living rooms. Frontline workers who haven’t been laid off yet and lack the option of working inside their homes, are obligated to confront the outside world each day where the virus lurks. Certainly, frontline workers are even more anxious than the rest of us.

Sadly, fear and unease are unescapable reactions at this juncture, regardless of our current situations. But a sense of peace is still achievable – even in these dreary times. Andre Lorrain, a Gravelbourg-based counsellor, mediator and educator at Prairie Counselling and Mediation Services, offered a framework for people who are seeking to govern themselves and their families in these bizarre circumstances influenced by the emergence of a deadly, global virus.

The session with Lorrain took place during a webinar on April 1 and was hosted by the Assiniboia Chamber of Commerce. The counsellor examined and discussed how we can emotionally stay ahead of this pandemic. He unpacked a number of insights in the webinar – all of which were timely, helpful and applicable.

Lorrain stressed the importance of self-care. “Be aware of the changes in yourselves,” he said. “Recognize the changes that are happening in our bodies.”

In troubled times, many of us overindulge in comfort foods. “Food can be used to pacify our emotions,” Lorrain said, also recognizing how others prefer not to eat at all in hectic periods. Lorrain recommended a diet based on nutritious foods. Foods with high starches, sugars and fatty foods can increase stress levels, according to Lorrain.

Accomplishing satisfactory amounts of sleep also alleviates inner-tensions. “Get good sleep habits,” Lorrain underlined. “For adults, this is eight to seven hours per night. Go to bed at the same time, get up at the same time. Establish a routine, otherwise we could get depressed and sick.”

Prior to bedtime, Lorrain advised his listeners not to binge on news stories or anything else which might be either overtly stimulating or distressing. “Before you go to bed, you want to relax your mind and start shutting the brain down. Don’t lay on your bed and play with your cell phone or watch T.V.”   

Especially when self-isolating, it might become very easy to overindulge in alcohol and other substances in an effort to overcome the apprehensions fashioned by the pandemic. “Monitor your alcohol intake,” Lorrain said, further advising people to oversee their daily nicotine and caffeine levels.

Exercising is yet another way to conquer stress. “When I started feeling anxiety, I started walking, the counsellor revealed. “It’s really good to exercise 15-30 minutes a day.”

In this time, when social distancing has become the catchphrase phrase of the moment, Lorrain wanted his listeners to realize the magnitude of retaining bonds with relatives, friends, co-workers and others with significant roles in our lives. “Staying connected is the best way to beat isolation,” Lorrain insisted.

On Lorrain’s last point, although we’re obliged to limit our travels to other countries, provinces, communities and households, modern technology has given us advantage to communicate with the outside world, assisted by telephones and computers. A telephone call to a relative in another province or country could make a positive difference, as we continue to endure this crisis together.