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Sabrina Carnevale

Sabrina Carnevale

Columnist

Sabrina Carnevale is a storyteller who finds inspiration in her city.

A familiar voice on Winnipeg radio since 2007, Sabrina was a reporter and producer with CBC Manitoba and a former announcer with Bell Media.

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Sabrina’s passion for health and wellness has brought her to the Winnipeg Free Press where she writes a twice-monthly column exploring what it means to live well.

Her passion for healthy living has afforded her the opportunity to write for several publications where she encourages people to try new things, get out of their comfort zones and find the joy in everyday life.

Sabrina is also a longtime member of Pan Am Boxing Club and finds comfort in punching the heavy bag (everyone’s got their thing, right?).

A professional both in front of the mic as well as behind the scenes, Sabrina has become a trusted voice in writing and producing original stories that highlight Manitobans.

Recent articles of Sabrina Carnevale

Despite being as normal a life stage as puberty, menopause remains shrouded in secrecy

Sabrina Carnevale 8 minute read Preview

Despite being as normal a life stage as puberty, menopause remains shrouded in secrecy

Sabrina Carnevale 8 minute read Monday, Oct. 31, 2022

A new national report from the Menopause Foundation of Canada (MFC) found that nearly 50 per cent of women feel unprepared for menopause. In fact, many women are experiencing it without the basic knowledge of symptoms that can negatively impact their day-to-day living.

Of the respondents who approached their physician for advice and information, 72 per cent said the advice they received was “unhelpful” or only “somewhat helpful.” In addition, 38 per cent felt that their symptoms were undertreated.

The average age of people with menopause in Canada is 51.5 years, and more than 90 per cent are menopausal by their mid-50s, according to Mount Sinai Hospital’s Menopause Clinic in Toronto. Technically, menopause refers to the point when menstrual periods stop completely for 12 consecutive months. The lead-up to this, which can last four to eight years, is known as perimenopause.

Menopause is a very personal subject that can be uncomfortable to speak about publicly. Some of the women who participated in this article requested to remain anonymous.

Monday, Oct. 31, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Dr. Carol Scurfield of the Women’s Health Clinic says women may confuse symptoms of perimenopause with menopause.

Low-intensity LUNGtivity program aims to improve physical health of those with lung conditions

Sabrina Carnevale 7 minute read Preview

Low-intensity LUNGtivity program aims to improve physical health of those with lung conditions

Sabrina Carnevale 7 minute read Monday, Oct. 17, 2022

If you’re living with lung disease, a new community exercise program could have you breathing a sigh of relief.

LUNGtivity is a low-intensity physical activity program designed for people with lung conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Co-ordinated in conjunction with the Manitoba Lung Association (MLA), it’s focused on improving COPD care in the community.

“The idea is that people with chronic lung disease have a way of improving their physical health, which we know helps people with their quality of life, reduces the number of flare-ups with their lung disease and reduces their need for medication and hospitalization,” says Neil Johnston, president and CEO of the association.

LUNGtivity is a continuation of the exercise portion of the pulmonary rehabilitation program offered in Manitoba for people with lung conditions such as COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and pulmonary fibrosis.

Monday, Oct. 17, 2022

Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press

Neil Johnston, president and CEO of the Manitoba Lung Association, is a driving force behind LUNGtivity, a program designed for people with lung conditions such as COPD.

Lacing up running shoes after quarter-century lapse eased lockdown loneliness for Winnipegger

Sabrina Carnevale 7 minute read Preview

Lacing up running shoes after quarter-century lapse eased lockdown loneliness for Winnipegger

Sabrina Carnevale 7 minute read Monday, Sep. 26, 2022

John Krestanowich took a more than quarter-century break from running but his return to the sport last year couldn’t have come at a better time.

“I hadn’t run much at all since junior high and it was very difficult for me to run when I was younger because I had pretty severe asthma,” he says.

In January 2021, Krestanowich, 44, joined a local running group that he had learned about in a newspaper article.

“At that time, we didn’t know how bad the pandemic was going to get,” he says. “For me, I think that the biggest takeaway when I read the article was that I wanted to make a significant change in my life.”

Monday, Sep. 26, 2022

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

John Krestanowich joined a local running club two years ago on a whim last year.

Type 2 diabetes diagnosis spurred businesswoman to get active and healthy

Sabrina Carnevale 6 minute read Preview

Type 2 diabetes diagnosis spurred businesswoman to get active and healthy

Sabrina Carnevale 6 minute read Monday, Aug. 22, 2022

Michelle Bergen never imagined that a health scare three years ago would lead to social media stardom.

On top of being a mother, wife and caregiver, Bergen, 51, has a demanding job as a businesswoman. After years of putting others ahead of herself, including her chronically ill husband, Bergen was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes three years ago.

“(That diagnosis) scared me. August 2019 was my wakeup call.”

Tired of feeling run down, Bergen knew it was time to show up for herself. Incorporating a gym routine into her lifestyle was only one component of getting her life on track — she also quit smoking and drinking, began tracking her food intake and joined WeightWatchers.

Monday, Aug. 22, 2022

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

After Michelle Bergen was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes three years ago, she lost more than 120 pounds and is now diabetes-free. She’s documented her health journey on Instagram, where she’s built a huge following.

Youngster’s teddy bear initiative offers others comfort through cardiac care

Sabrina Carnevale 6 minute read Preview

Youngster’s teddy bear initiative offers others comfort through cardiac care

Sabrina Carnevale 6 minute read Monday, Aug. 8, 2022

A young heart surgery patient is giving back to the community that helped save her life.

When Siena Smith was 10 months old, she was diagnosed with a condition called ventricular septal defect, which means she was born with a hole in her heart. Her family was told she would have to undergo open heart surgery, but since Manitoba doesn’t have a pediatric cardiac surgical program, Siena’s surgery would take place out of province.

“We were told that they no longer do pediatric heart surgeries on children here in Winnipeg,” says Sabrina Castellano Smith, Siena’s mother.

The Travis Price Children’s Heart Centre in Winnipeg, formerly the Children’s Heart Centre, transfers approximately 170 children annually to other provinces for heart surgery. Most patients go to Edmonton, while some are flown to Vancouver.

Monday, Aug. 8, 2022

SUPPLIED

Baby Siena and Luna

Investment in opportunities to boost physical, mental health pays economic dividends

Sabrina Carnevale 6 minute read Preview

Investment in opportunities to boost physical, mental health pays economic dividends

Sabrina Carnevale 6 minute read Monday, Jul. 25, 2022

Physical activity can not only have a positive effect on your physical and mental health, it can also give the economy a boost.

According to a new report from Deloitte, the health and fitness industry has a “profound” economic and social impact on countries around the globe, noting that “inactivity is costly, and exercise means big savings.”

“We have (always) known that the fitness industry is essential and now we have substantial data to prove it,” says Sara Hodson, president of the Fitness Industry Council of Canada. “You can’t look at these numbers without implementing significant policy changes to address how to improve access to fitness for all Canadians.”

The report, Economic health and societal wellbeing: quantifying the impact of the global health and fitness sector, was commissioned by the Global Health & Fitness Alliance in collaboration with the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association. It outlines the health and fitness industry’s impact on gross domestic product (GDP) and health-care systems worldwide, as well as specific activity in 46 countries, including Canada.

Monday, Jul. 25, 2022

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Stephanie Jeffrey feels a tax credit would entice people to spend more money on exercise-related programming and services.

Take stock of what really matters in wake of pandemic upheaval

Sabrina Carnevale 8 minute read Preview

Take stock of what really matters in wake of pandemic upheaval

Sabrina Carnevale 8 minute read Monday, Jun. 27, 2022

After two years, many of us are finding our passion and purpose again.

Some of us are busier than ever as our life plans have been uprooted, while others are taking on less and prioritizing themselves. Either way, you’re either embracing this ongoing period of transition or doing your best to tread water.

What’s unique about this moment in history is that we all experienced this major life transition at the same time. Who has lived through the last two years without experiencing some form of major change?

Michael Linton owns Centric Productions, a Winnipeg video production company that primarily produces corporate videos. He lost almost all of his business during the pandemic.

Monday, Jun. 27, 2022

Michael Linton, owner of a local video production company, lost a lot of work during the pandemic. During his ‘forced’ time off, he was able to rediscover mountain biking — something he loved 20 years ago and sort of fell out of. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press)

Make way for the clean-up guy

Sabrina Carnevale 7 minute read Preview

Make way for the clean-up guy

Sabrina Carnevale 7 minute read Monday, Jun. 6, 2022

For Dan Gordon, keeping his neighbourhood clean is all part of a day’s work. Unpaid work, that is.

The longtime Osborne Village resident equips himself daily with a trash picker, broom and dustpan and cleans up his neighbourhood.

“I really like spending my time doing something valuable in the community,” he says.

A former street patrol volunteer with the Bear Clan, Gordon was inspired during an Earth Day clean-up to tidy up his own backyard.

Monday, Jun. 6, 2022

Dan Gordon cleans up the streets in and around Osborne Village where he picks up garbage and sweeps up debris, all on his own accord. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

Local entrepreneurs’ celebratory biz a sign of the times

Sabrina Carnevale 5 minute read Preview

Local entrepreneurs’ celebratory biz a sign of the times

Sabrina Carnevale 5 minute read Tuesday, May. 24, 2022

When Susie Freedman Tapper was planning her daughter’s 16th birthday last winter, she never would have guessed it would lead to a new business venture.

Since an indoor party for her daughter, Maddy, wasn’t an option, owing to pandemic-related restrictions, Freedman Tapper had to get creative. An online search lit her fuse.

“I didn’t want (Maddy’s) birthday to pass by without making a big deal out of turning 16,” she says. “It was in the midst of the pandemic and everyone was house-bound. I wanted to make a sign because people were starting to do those drive-by birthday parades.”

Local sign options were available but Freedman Tapper wanted something different. A quick online search revealed that the yard card sign industry is booming in the U.S.

Tuesday, May. 24, 2022

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Shannon Golding (left) and Susie Freedman Tapper started their Bling My Lawn business during the pandemic.

Time spent at home has reshaped what employees want from the office

Sabrina Carnevale 8 minute read Preview

Time spent at home has reshaped what employees want from the office

Sabrina Carnevale 8 minute read Monday, May. 9, 2022

Office workers used to, well, work in offices. Then the pandemic hit. And since it was first declared, entire organizations have been upended.

As workplaces face down the third year of the crisis, engaging workers to return to offices or hybrid work arrangements will require both empathy and flexibility.

In February’s Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey, nearly a quarter of workers reported that they have been working exclusively at home. A little over 30 per cent are working part-time at home and part-time in the office.

“I think people find change difficult. We got comfortable when we were forced to work remotely, which we’ve done successfully, but then the shift to going back to work is another level of change. I think that’s been difficult for people,” says Roberta Connon, principal and general manager of InterGroup Consultants in downtown Winnipeg.

Monday, May. 9, 2022

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Adam Levene, partner at MLT Atkins, says junior lawyers are missing the kind of mentorship that can only happen in person.

Brain tumour surgery a traumatic experience with happy ending

Sabrina Carnevale 8 minute read Preview

Brain tumour surgery a traumatic experience with happy ending

Sabrina Carnevale 8 minute read Monday, Apr. 18, 2022

Last spring, Max Erenberg woke up on a Monday morning with a splitting headache. Having binged several hours of the Masters golf tournament that weekend, he chalked the pain up to too many hours of watching television.

At the time, Erenberg, 28, was the manager of research and data analysis for the Winnipeg Jets — and this particular Monday was also the trade deadline, a very hectic time in the hockey world.

“There’s a lot of reporting that goes on in a very short period of time and you’re under a tight deadline,” he says. “I hadn’t been sleeping much, watching too much golf, working. I was just stressed.”

His headache continued throughout the day and at work that evening, he couldn’t focus. He recalls complaining to his colleagues that his head was throbbing.

Monday, Apr. 18, 2022

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Max Erenberg is raising money for the 2022 Brain Tumour Walk, June 17-19.

City woman chose medically assisted death in church where ALS sufferer had raised her family

Sabrina Carnevale 9 minute read Preview

City woman chose medically assisted death in church where ALS sufferer had raised her family

Sabrina Carnevale 9 minute read Monday, Apr. 4, 2022

When Betty Sanguin decided to end her life with medical assistance, one of her final requests was for it to take place at her church.

Her family helped fulfil her wish. Surrounded by loved ones, including her six children, Sanguin, 86, died in March at her “crossing over” ceremony at Churchill Park United Church. The entire procedure took 15 minutes.

A lifelong volunteer, her life changed forever last spring when she was diagnosed with ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

This was the first provision of medical assistance in dying (MAiD) to take place in a church in Manitoba.

Monday, Apr. 4, 2022

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Colleen Barbour, client care co-ordinator with the Manitoba MAiD team, said daughters Renée Sanguin (left) and Lynda Sanguin-Colpitts ‘moved mountains’ to honour mother Betty Sanguin’s wishes to have her medically assisted death administered at the church.

Lockdowns, social-media pressures amplify impacts of disordered eating, lack of body acceptance

Sabrina Carnevale 8 minute read Preview

Lockdowns, social-media pressures amplify impacts of disordered eating, lack of body acceptance

Sabrina Carnevale 8 minute read Monday, Mar. 21, 2022

Given the mental-health issues teenagers face every day, it should come as no surprise that the pandemic has elevated their stressors to new levels.

Pandemic lockdowns have led to substantial changes for young people, such as disruptions to eating, physical activity and social patterns, which can be risk factors for developing an eating disorder.

The Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba (MDAM) wanted to know more, so they piloted a disordered-eating program last spring.

“(The program) started off with a heavy disordered-eating focus but then we really tried to incorporate body image, diet culture, stereotypes, beauty, all of those things — because there’s so many other components to it,” says Andrea Smith, facilitator of the Disordered Eating and Body Image Workshop at MDAM.

Monday, Mar. 21, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Andrea Smith, the Disordered Eating and Body Image Workshop facilitator (left), and Rita Chahal, executive director, at the Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba

Whether simple or structured, journalling can be great aid for personal growth

Sabrina Carnevale 8 minute read Preview

Whether simple or structured, journalling can be great aid for personal growth

Sabrina Carnevale 8 minute read Monday, Feb. 28, 2022

Once the territory of teenagers, journalling has evolved from sticker-covered notebooks to a marker of the so-called self-care movement, alongside meditation and holistic living. And for good reason: scientific studies have shown it to have significant mental and physical health benefits.

There are the obvious benefits, like a boost in memory, mindfulness and communication skills. But studies have also found that writing in a journal can lead to better sleep, a stronger immune system, improved stress management and more self-confidence. And none of these advantages require you to be a good writer.

There are several styles and methods to choose from; however, journalling is essentially creating time in your day to write down whatever comes to mind. Some people use colour-coded pens, a blank notebook or the latest app. Purists may stick to the tried-and-true spiral notebook for journal entries; however, typing entries on a computer or phone can yield similar effects that are just as positive, especially if it’s more convenient for you.

Artist Andrea Schroeder, founder of the Creative Dream Incubator in Winnipeg, has been teaching online journalling and meditation classes for more than a decade.

Monday, Feb. 28, 2022

Artist Andrea Schroeder is the founder of Creative Dream Incubator, an online resource for guided journals, meditation, e-courses and one-on-one coaching. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

Peer-support group gives families dealing with mental-health struggles reassurance that they’re not alone

Sabrina Carnevale 7 minute read Preview

Peer-support group gives families dealing with mental-health struggles reassurance that they’re not alone

Sabrina Carnevale 7 minute read Monday, Feb. 14, 2022

Two Winnipeg mental-health advocates are using their own experiences to help family members and caregivers of those who are struggling to receive the support they need.

Charlotte Sytnyk and Kirsten Drybrough met six years ago on the steps of the Manitoba Legislature at a rally in support of mental health. After their initial conversation, they realized they had a lot in common — primarily, they each had a daughter who had struggled with her mental health.

“We had a conversation and, for the first time, I had a connection and wasn’t alone. Charlotte was experiencing really similar stuff in her home,” Drybrough says.

The two mothers realized there was a lack of support for families supporting a loved one with mental-health challenges. After some research and planning, they opened All in Family Peer Support, a non-profit organization that provides peer support, workshops and education to help family members.

Monday, Feb. 14, 2022

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Kirsten Drybrough (right) and Charlotte Tooley Sytnyk founded All in Family Peer Support, a not-for-profit organization that provides peer support to family members who are supporting someone with mental health challenges or addiction.

Social work dean promotes technique for positive impact

Sabrina Carnevale 8 minute read Preview

Social work dean promotes technique for positive impact

Sabrina Carnevale 8 minute read Monday, Jan. 17, 2022

Many people practise mindfulness with the hopes of becoming more present, more focused and less judgmental. Research shows that mindfulness practices give us greater control over our emotions, and help regulate emotional responses and reduce anxiety, which can increase our capacity to be empathetic, think clearly and act with purpose.

In essence, mindfulness is any exercise that encourages you to focus on your sensations and thoughts in the present moment. It was popularized and became more mainstream in the West in the 1970s and ’80s.

Studies show mindfulness and related practices can also help with raising awareness and even assist in minimizing bias. While research is ongoing, this all suggests mindfulness and compassion practices can serve as important resources in addressing systemic change.

Michael Yellow Bird, dean of the faculty of social work at the University of Manitoba, has worked extensively in mindfulness, introducing it to Indigenous programs and teaching it to Indigenous communities and organizations.

Monday, Jan. 17, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Michael Yellow Bird uses neuroscience research to examine how mindfulness approaches and traditional Indigenous practices can positively impact both the brain’s structure and function.

Feeling your oats?

Sabrina Carnevale 8 minute read Preview

Feeling your oats?

Sabrina Carnevale 8 minute read Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021

There’s a lot of buzz around fibre — and for good reason. While all fibres are types of carbohydrates, there are several varieties. One example is beta-glucans — a soluble fibre that has been linked to gut, heart and immune health.

To learn more about the health benefits of beta-glucan, researchers at the University of Manitoba and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) are conducting a nutritional study looking at how and if eating beta-glucan derived from oats affects blood pressure.

Fibre is a super-nutrient. It slows the absorption of glucose — which evens out our blood-sugar levels — and lowers cholesterol and inflammation. A fibre-rich diet is associated with better gastrointestinal health and a reduced risk of heart attacks, strokes, high cholesterol, obesity and Type 2 diabetes

“The goal of this project is to find out whether beta-glucan from oats has any effect on managing a healthy blood pressure,” says Dr. Sijo Joseph (Thandapilly), a research scientist with AAFC and co-investigator of the study.

Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Dylan MacKay (left) and Dr. Sijo Joseph are are trying to determine whether breakfast cookies made from oats containing beta-glucan has any effect on blood pressure

Miscommunication, lack of urgency complicate prostate cancer battle

Sabrina Carnevale 8 minute read Preview

Miscommunication, lack of urgency complicate prostate cancer battle

Sabrina Carnevale 8 minute read Monday, Nov. 22, 2021

Three years ago, Les Ferris was told he had three to six months to live. A year at most.

The urologist who gave Ferris his prostate cancer diagnosis in 2018 was the same one who told him months earlier that his prostate was fine — no lumps or irregularities. He also told Ferris to come back two months later and that his PSA — prostate-specific antigen — would be “normal.”

“My diagnosis has been plagued by doctor illness, doctor egos and bad luck,” says Ferris, 66, a farmer from the south central Manitoba community of Holland.

PSA is a protein produced by tissue in the prostate, which is a small gland that sits below the bladder in males. Prostate cancer occurs when the cells of the prostate begin to grow uncontrollably. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.

Monday, Nov. 22, 2021

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Les Ferris has written a blog detailing his experience with prostate cancer and continues to update it to share his story with other men in hopes of helping them have a different outcome than his.

Study tracks benefits of membership at medical fitness facilities

Sabrina Carnevale 7 minute read Preview

Study tracks benefits of membership at medical fitness facilities

Sabrina Carnevale 7 minute read Monday, Nov. 1, 2021

Nandita Selvanathan manages two heart conditions — both of which have caused her chest pains and repeated hospital visits.

“What was bothering me in my daily life was my frequent hospitalization. I went to the hospital quite a few times. That’s never a pleasant experience,” she says. “With my chest pains, I had drained energy, both mentally and physically.”

Selvanathan, 63, has two structural heart concerns — shrinkage of a heart valve and a dilated aorta. She has also experienced an arrhythmia and heart palpitations (rapid heart rhythms or skips) and notes that having high blood pressure “doesn’t help.”

At the suggestion of a friend, Selvanathan went to the Wellness Institute in 2015 to participate in the cardiac rehabilitation program. The education and supervised exercise regimen is designed for people with cardiovascular disease who are recovering from a heart attack, stents, peripheral artery disease, heart failure or irregular heart rhythms.

Monday, Nov. 1, 2021

A Winnipegger who manages two structural heart concerns, Nandita Selvanathan has attended the Wellness Institute since 2015 to participate in the cardiac rehabilitation program. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

Teenage artist finds creative process helps her tap into emotions, find sense of self

Sabrina Carnevale 7 minute read Preview

Teenage artist finds creative process helps her tap into emotions, find sense of self

Sabrina Carnevale 7 minute read Monday, Oct. 18, 2021

Faiza Malik found more than peace and safety when she and her family arrived in Canada from Afghanistan nine years ago — she also found art.

The 16-year-old credits art and creativity with helping her transition to a new life. Now she wants to work with local kids to give them access to resources she never had growing up.

“I started painting when I first arrived in Canada when I was in Grade 2 or Grade 3. We had those little art projects in school and I was always excited to do those things because I was using my hands and creating something new,” Malik says. “Art wasn’t really a thing that was available in Afghanistan.”

She admits the culture shock was all-consuming when she and her family, including her mom, dad and three siblings, first arrived here.

Monday, Oct. 18, 2021

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Faiza Malik, 16, shows off one of her untitled paintings at her Winnipeg home. Malik, who moved to Canada nine years ago from Afghanistan, credits art and creativity with helping her transition to her new life here.

A different spin on fitness

Sabrina Carnevale 8 minute read Preview

A different spin on fitness

Sabrina Carnevale 8 minute read Monday, Oct. 4, 2021

Kazka is the Ukrainian word for “fairy tale.” For dance instructor Kristina Frykas, Kazka Dance Collective is her fairy tale come true.

She opened her boutique studio in Winnipeg two years ago and Hopakercise — her exercise class that blends Ukrainian dance and fitness — has become a hit. Frykas created and even trademarked the name.

Hopakercise originates from “hopak,” a Ukrainian folk dance that’s often referred to as the “national dance of Ukraine.”

“Hopakercise is a dance-based fitness class that combines the principles of Pilates, ballet and Ukrainian folk dance to create a high-energy workout,” Frykas says. “Hopak is the most well-known Ukrainian dance. It’s high energy and usually shows off everyone’s special skills.”

Monday, Oct. 4, 2021

photos by MIKE SUDOMA / Winnipeg Free Press
Dance instructor Kristina Frykas shows off a few moves from her new program, Hopakercise, a workout with a mix of Ukrainian dance and fitness she’s trademarked.

Greeting the day with a structured ritual can reduce stress, build confidence

Sabrina Carnevale 8 minute read Preview

Greeting the day with a structured ritual can reduce stress, build confidence

Sabrina Carnevale 8 minute read Monday, Sep. 20, 2021

While many of us enjoy the occasional surprise or change of pace, we generally like to know how our day is going to unfold. We thrive on structure and predictability.

But what we used to take for granted has been upended by the pandemic and it can be challenging to try to reclaim some semblance of control. One way to keep our spirits up and help restore that sense of control is through rituals, especially those in the morning.

A morning ritual can be simple, from a 10-minute meditation session, to a series of morning tasks, such as brushing your teeth or washing your face, to brewing your morning coffee. When we wake up, we may be physically awake but our minds are still warming up. Studies have shown morning rituals promote higher energy levels and less stress throughout the day.

They help awaken our minds, help us get a fresh start and can be those slow moments when we have quiet time to ourselves.

Monday, Sep. 20, 2021

Studies have shown morning rituals as simple as brewing your morning coffee promote higher energy levels and less stress throughout the day. (Mohd Hafiez Mohd Razali / Dreamstime / TNS files)

Return to society can trigger ‘re-entry anxiety’

Sabrina Carnevale 9 minute read Preview

Return to society can trigger ‘re-entry anxiety’

Sabrina Carnevale 9 minute read Monday, Aug. 30, 2021

With school about to begin and much of society reopening to various degrees, Diana Leslie is experiencing something new — re-entry anxiety.

The speech language pathologist and mother of two children under the age of five is finding her COVID-19-related anxiety is always “bubbling under the surface.”

The vast majority of kids she works with in a rural school division are under 12, so they’re not able to get vaccinated.

“I’ve never had anxiety about anything that actually stopped me from going outside or stopped me from certain social interactions,” she says. “I want to take my daughter to do things so that she can have fun and be a kid, but also not compromise her safety or put her in situations where she’s around people who are unvaccinated.”

Monday, Aug. 30, 2021

ALEX LUPUL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Sophia Ali, social worker and executive director of Aulneau Renewal Centre, says it’s natural we will have some anxiety with public places as the pandemic is still a reality for us.

Animal-assisted therapy helps manage anxiety, psychogenic seizures

Sabrina Carnevale 9 minute read Preview

Animal-assisted therapy helps manage anxiety, psychogenic seizures

Sabrina Carnevale 9 minute read Monday, Aug. 9, 2021

Macyn Comeault experiences anxiety but the 11-year-old Winnipegger is finding clarity and connection through animal therapy offered in southern Manitoba.

Macyn has what’s called “pseudoseizures’’ or psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES), which are episodes of movement, sensation or behaviours, including fainting, that mimic epileptic seizures. PNES does not have a neurologic origin. Instead, these seizures are a physical manifestation of psychological distress.

She had her first fainting episode in February 2019. She spent time in and out of the hospital — often taken there by ambulance — and was officially diagnosed with PNES that October.

“I didn’t really know what was going on and I just wanted to get to the bottom of it,” Macyn says. “I didn’t like the hospital, especially when I had to sleep there.”

Monday, Aug. 9, 2021

Macyn Comeault (left) and Lucy Sloan hang out with the animals at Lil’ Steps Wellness Farm in St. Malo. Sloan has been practicing animal-assisted therapy on her farm since 2015. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)