Sunny weather, sunny smiles: Montrealers find relief from COVID-19 anxiety by heading outdoors

With winter not far away -- at least, on the calendar -- and the city still mired in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Montrealers took advantage of the unseasonable warm weather this weekend and headed outdoors.

At Lafontaine Park, musician Curtis Thorpe couldn't pass up the chance to play his hammered dulcimer among the fallen leaves.

“This is a real gift, to have this environment, this warmth, to be outside and share what I do,” he said.

Clinical psychologist Syd Miller said there were major benefits to heading into the great outdoors and spending time with loved ones, even if that still came with abiding by physical distancing measures. He noted that the pandemic has been a major source of anxiety for many who are living through it.

“When is this going to end and will it end? Will we ever go back to normalcy and how will my kids get through this? How will I get through this? Will my parents make it out okay?” he said.

Relief from those questions took many forms. Normand Girard opted to fly a kite, a hobby he's engaged in for a quarter of a century.

“For me, it's like a kind of meditation,” he said. “I do exercise, different manoeuvres with the arms and everything. It's very good for the mind.”

Miller said staying positive can go a long way during such difficult times.

“I've been telling folks, the new normal does not have to be a bad new normal. It could be a new and improved normal,” he said. “We've learned how to connect with each other better, we recognize the value of our neighbours and neighbourhoods and our friends and relatives more.” 

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