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Feeling the COVID-19-blues? Cheer up with one of these remedies!

Canines, cardio and classic tunes are among the many ways Albertans can catch a break from the COVID-19 blues.

Canines, cardio and classical tunes are among the many ways Albertans can catch a break from the COVID-19 blues.

While it is shaping up to be a winter like no other, there has been no shortage of support for mental wellness during the lingering pandemic.

Dr. Kirsten Aarbo, president of the Alberta Medical Veterinary Association, said dogs, cats and other pets have been providing emotional support in greater numbers since COVID-19 hit in March.

"There was a dramatic increase of people obtaining pets during COVID-19 that was noticed by veterinary clinics across Alberta," said Aarbo, adding pet emotional support comes in the form of non-judgemental affection and companionship.

"Those that were isolated from family and friends benefited from the companionship and physical touch supplied by their pets."

As a second wave of COVID-19 looms, the importance of pets increases, she said.

“I think many more people are realizing how much emotional support a pet can provide."

Staying active is also crucial for people coping with the restrictions due to COVID-19, said Running Room founder John Stanton.

"You look around and there more people than ever out on the trails and streets this year. People aren't going to the gym like they used to," he said – they're staying connected online and through social media instead.

"It is so important to swItch to virtual and to maintain that community."

Stanton said many people are doing their training and their runs online and then meeting virtually to talk about it. While the regular Wednesday and Sunday Running Room training runs have been cancelled since COVID-19 hit, people can still go for a walk or a run – either solo or with their cohort group – and then get together virtually afterward.

'We also encourage everyone to post their photos to Facebook and Instagram."

People are also receiving mental health support from musicians who have been holding outdoor gigs at unique venues across the province.

Beginning in the spring, numerous performers from country artist Brett Kissel to folk/rock singer Bill Bourne played outdoor concerts in venues such as parking lots and parks.

Edmonton folk artist Martin Kerr hosted socially distanced Stay Home Street Concerts in neighbourhoods and parks for audiences from 20 up to 200 in the Edmonton area and south.

“We started on April 17 and we went until mid-September,” said Kerr, adding he played more than 250 concerts in total.

Kerr thanked his fans on Facebook, saying: “Thank you to everybody who has supported this local independent musician during the most uncertain times we have faced in our lifetimes. You are truly amazing and I'll never forget it."

Kerr and musician Ann Vriend wrote and performed Isolation Groove in mid-March when Alberta went into a lockdown due to COVID-19.

"We were in the studio the day the province shut down, so we wrote this song," said Kerr.

With winter around the corner, the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra is providing some classical aural relief through a series of socially distanced one-hour concerts at the Winspear Centre from October until June.

"It’s difficult to put a price on something we believe to be priceless – people coming together to experience live music performed by an incredible symphony orchestra in a beautiful concert hall," stated a letter to ESO members from Joyce LaBriola, the Winspear Centre/ESO vice-president of brand and experience.

"Being able to host 100 people per concert is challenging; however, we have adapted the entire organization to ensure that our patrons feel safe and special coming back to the venue."

Alberta Health Services (AHS) has a list of links and phone numbers to assist and aid people needing an emotional rescue – from the free daily messages on Text4Hope to Mental Wellness Moment videos with Dr. Nicholas Mitchell. AHS also offers HeartMath, a course on managing stress.

If you need to speak to someone, you can call the Mental Health Helpline at 1-877-303-2642 or the Addiction line at 1-866-332-2322. Trained staff is available 24/7.

Gary Poignant is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Great West Newspapers. This story was funded by the Facebook Journalism Project Supporting Local News Coverage of COVID-19 Program via the Local Media Foundation.

Gary Poignant

About the Author: Gary Poignant

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