Be Kind.

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By Anita Manley

Last weekend, we were so honoured and privileged to be invited to our friends’ “Guest Cottage” near Renfrew, ON, along the Ottawa River.

Not only were we invited, but we received red carpet treatment the entire time we were there. Activities were planned, spa music was playing in the background, excellent meals were prepared and served, there was a hot tub and big screen TV outside so we could enjoy both at the same time. We went on a group kayak, did aerobic drumming and even danced in the rain!! Janet and Joe even treated everyone in the resort to a pizza party! Quite simply, the 4 days away was completely FABULOUS and it felt as though we had been away for two weeks!

It is so important for everyone to escape for a bit of a vacation, every now and again. Ron and I do not have the means to spend on hotels, transportation, etc. for a holiday, but these friends of ours did and were happy to have us stay at their “Guest Cottage”. We had the place to ourselves, complete with a kitchen, air conditioning, heating and a fireplace for those cool evenings. They even provided cozy jackets and blankets that we were able to wear around the firepit without worrying about spark damage from the fire.

There were so many mental health benefits of being out in nature, listening to the birds, the crackling of the fire, seeing nature’s beatuy all around us. I personally really enjoyed the long group kayak that we all went on Saturday morning. There is something very calming about being on the water, engaged in converstion with friends.

I recently read a post that said:

“We are not all in the same boat.

We are in the same storm.

Some have yachts, some canoes,

and some are drowning.

Just be kind and help whoever you can.” – Damian Barr

This quote epitomizes our friends, Janet and Joe. Due to much hard work, risk and determination they have been very fortunate to reap the financial rewards. They also are very willing to be kind and generous to their friends, who may not be as well off.

I know that their kindness and generosity lifted our spirits immensely, and we feel bouyed to carry on in this ongoing storm, feeling less weight upon our shoulders, all due to the kindness of others.

Of course, it’s not necessary to do such grand gestures as Janet and Joe. For example, I recently gave a Starbucks gift card to a busker, who was extremely grateful for this random act of kindness. Also, it could be as simple as letting someone go in front of you in line, or opening a door for a stranger. I think if we all set out a clear intention to be kind to others, we will find many small ways to do exactly that.

“Just be kind, and help whoever you can.” It will not go unnoticed and may actually change a person’s outlook on life, or at least bring a smile to their face.

Sitting around the campfire, sharing stories and laughing were some of the many highlights of our little getaway! All thanks to the kindness of others.

Managing Stress and Anxiety During COVID-19

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Guest Blog by The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre

“It’s OK to feel stressed and anxious, especially right now. While many of us are finding solace in another NETFLIX marathon, there are lots of other safe activities we can do to help keep our stress levels in check.”

“(The Royal) asked two of (their) recreational therapists– Ashleigh McGuinty and Sara Richardson-Brown– to share their top six anxiety-busting strategies they recommend to clients and families, and this is what they came up with.”

“These are just six out of thousands of options.”

#1. Engage in Creative Arts

Creative activities like visual arts, writing, music, drama, and movement can help decrease anxiety and stress, and promote positive mood & increased confidence and self-identity.

#2. Get out into nature

Promote feelings of well-being, lower blood pressure, decrease feelings of anxiety & depression, and improve physical activity levels by spending time outdoors.

#3. Practice mindfulness

The practice of mindfulness can reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety, and can substantially reduce stress. Techniques like focusing on breath, meditation, and mindful walking are some examples of mindfulness tools.

#4. Spend time with a pet

The companionship of a pet can reduce stress, improve mood and self-esteem, increase happiness, and decrease loneliness & isolation.

#5. Listen to music

Improve your mood, sleep, and overall happiness by making a playlist and throw on some music while doing chores, working, or cooking.

#6. Move more

Regular exercise is shown to help reduce anxiety and tension, promote positive mood, and increase self-esteem and confidence. @fitnessblender has over 600 free home workout videos and programs!

How do you manage stress during COVID? Let me know in the comments.