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Dealing with isolation during the pandemic

Reducing stress levels is key
20200322 Monica Rosborough UC sermon
Athabasca United Church minister Monica Rosborough took her sermon to Facebook Live on Sunday to offer some stability to parishioners in these trying times.
ATHABASCA – Mental and physical health are more important than ever while fitness facilities and entertainment venues are closed during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Alberta Health Services has several resources online to help people cope with what is going on and how to talk to children about COVID-19. Local faith leaders and health and wellness instructors are also offering tips and videos. 

Jon LeMessurier of Baseline Training has been posting “Quarantine workouts” on his Facebook page, including a funny video where toilet paper replaced weights. Carrie Shaw who owns Mediation with Carrie has moved her meditation classes to Zoom, a popular conferencing app. 

“The Zoom calls on Monday night, that was started before the pandemic,” Shaw said. “I actually upped it, so now I’m doing Zoom on Wednesdays.” 

She has also been posting on Facebook and Instagram about being mindful of your body. 

“Check in with your body and your energy and see where you're holding tension,” she explained. “If you're having physical pain et cetera; because stress and with all the fear of the coverage and everything, we tend to hold a lot more tension in our bodies.” 

Shaw also recommends keeping yourself grounded and doing deep breathing exercises. 

“Bringing your breath all the way down into your belly instead of just being in your chest because typically we're chest breathers,” Shaw said. “We do shallow breathing which actually causes more anxiety. So, if we bring our breath down into our belly, then it actually brings it down and it's a state of calmness.” 

Walking, or moving meditation like Tai Chi or Qi Gong can also be beneficial for people who are feeling stressed out. 

“Walking meditation, so that's where you can turn on some chill music, like Zen music, or even just have your music and you actually you cross your hands behind your back (and hold the other arms forearm in your hand),” Shaw explained. “Then you feel every part of your foot touch the ground. Take your normal walking speed and divide it by 100 and you just walk really, really slow and focus on your breathing.” 

AHS also recommends talking to others about your fears and anxieties, ensuring you keep eating healthy meals, doing some aerobics or light exercise three to five times a week, getting enough sleep, calming your mind with meditation or relaxation exercises, reducing alcohol consumption and writing down your fears and anxieties so you can create an action plan to overcome them. 

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) also lists meditation on their website as well as turning off the news once in a while: 

Things you can do to support yourself 

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting. 

  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs. 

  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy. 

  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. 

Mental health experts are also suggesting this is a perfect time to take up a new hobby or learn a new language. Athabasca University is a local resource for taking classes online, and Udemy has non-accredited courses on things like photography, sharing circles, writing and more, including some free offerings. 

The United Church minister Monica Rosborough took to Facebook Live on March 21 to let people know there were some items like yarn and books outside the historic building for anyone to access. 

Connecting with your faith leader is another way to reduce stress which is what also prompted Rosborough to conduct her sermon on March 22 over Facebook Live with plans to move to Zoom to allow screen sharing. Rosborough’s husband Tim held up pieces of paper in front of the camera so viewers could recite prayers or sing along. 

If you are feeling stressed out there are multiple supports you can access both locally and provincially. 

Important Phone Numbers 

For more information and links see the AHS website.

Heather Stocking,
Follow me on Twitter @HLSox