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Getting outside, decorating donuts, and gardening are some of the ways GCC staff are coping as we move into the second year (and hopefully last months!) of the pandemic.

According to experts, it’s normal to feel increased levels of stress and anxiety, but there are tools and strategies that can help. GCC staff share some of the tactics that are working for them, and even bringing joy during these challenging times.

“Growing plant seedlings has helped me cope and keeps me hopeful and looking forward – when you first sow the seeds indoors in March its still cold and wintry outside, but you know that by the time they are grown it will be Spring and getting warm,” says Transportation and Water Program Director Kate Berry.

Kate, pictured with her seedlings, even built a cold-frame this year from old windows and scrap wood so she could grow more varieties of vegetables! It’s been a huge success – the cold-frame is overflowing with seedlings and she’s run out of plant pots.

Water Programs Coordinator Emily Amon, based on Salt Spring Island, BC, injects joy into her day by listening to music, going for hikes, and taking dips in the cold ocean waters. Her coping mechanisms include cooking good meals and getting lots of rest.

“I don’t think I’m coping too well, but know if I got more sleep that would be good!” says Executive Director Carol Steuri, the mother of two young boys. Running puts her in a better mood, while binge watching Schitt’s Creek, playing soccer with her boys, and late night dinners with her husband are all sources of joy.

“I’d say my only survival strategy is to make sure that work hours are work hours and weekends are weekends. With the geography of work/home overlapped, it’s important that the time doesn’t,” shares Director of Finance Sé Keohane.

Energy Program Director Devon Calder finds the Pomodoro Technique of taking short breaks between concentrated work stints helps him cope during the work day.

Throughout the pandemic Ontario Active School Travel Project Coordinator Celenna Ciuro has challenged herself with free online home workout programs. “And when negative thoughts start to overwhelm my mind, baking and decorating donuts or making energy balls has been my go to,” she says.

Celenna derives joy from her morning routine. “Slow mornings are essential for me! Writing down a list of what I am grateful for, followed by a short walk with my morning coffee brings me joy and creates a positive mindset for the day ahead.”