Meditation, exercise are ways to cope with stress during return to normalcy from COVID-19

Click to play video: 'Mental health and the return to normalcy: ‘Change is very stressful’'
Mental health and the return to normalcy: ‘Change is very stressful’
While many Albertans are rejoicing at the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, mental health experts say the return to normal can be a source of stress and anxiety for some. Eloise Therien has more on what can be done to ease those worries. – Jul 12, 2021

While Albertans are easing into life without most COVID-19 restrictions following the province’s last phase of the Open for Summer Plan, some may be feeling stressed or anxious about the return to pre-pandemic circumstances.

David Gabert, the communications lead and project co-ordinator with the Canadian Mental Health Association – Alberta South Region, said it is completely normal to be feeling uncertain and anxious during times like these.

“What we’re going through is change, and change is very stressful. It’s very anxiety-inducing, and everybody comes at it from a different perspective,” he explained.

“For our mental health’s sake, it’s very important that we validate and we listen to somebody, and if we’re at a, say, family gathering where there’s somebody who feels they still need to mask, to respect that.”

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Diane Sim, executive director at Martha Retreat Centre in Lethbridge, believes meditation is a good way to find balance and deal with stress. The grounds of the centre are available for anyone to access.

“It’s very important to find a place where you can be still and where you can dig into what gives you peace,” she said.

In May, the organization formed a labyrinth on the east portion of its property. Anyone who participates can read a pamphlet about how to use the space.

“People can walk through the labyrinth and do some self-meditation,” Sim explained.

“As you walk into the centre of the labyrinth, you think about, ‘What are the things weighing on my shoulders? What’s weighing me down today?’ and think about releasing those.”

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 restrictions taking ‘mental toll’ on southern Albertans'
COVID-19 restrictions taking ‘mental toll’ on southern Albertans

If not meditation, exercise is also a proven way to support a positive mental headspace.

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Shawn Pinder, co-owner of Runners Soul in Lethbridge, said the organization has seen more interest since the pandemic began.

He said it has highlighted benefits to both physical and mental health for many, including himself.

“It’s definitely been a great mental escape for me,” he said, adding that running can be a good option for those looking for a free source of exercise away from more populated places like gyms.

“It’s always been a little safer to be doing activities outside, so running continues to be that type of activity where you can do it outside with even a group of people and keep spaced out a little bit more.”

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