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Gina Cousineau

By Gina Cousineau

After what was truly the trip of a lifetime with my youngest daughter to South Africa, we both contracted COVID-19 at the very end of our trip. Not exactly the souvenirs we planned on bringing back home, especially after avoiding it like the plague for the past two-plus years.

Our “droplet gang” at home is fully vaccinated and boosted, yet it seems at this point in the pandemic, it is almost impossible to avoid. One thing I learned with COVID in my personal life is that it looks very different for everyone.

As one of the “healthiest humans” around, I was in bed feeling awful for a week straight, and while I was never in fear of my own life, I had intense fear for my immune-compromised husband. Thankfully, he avoided it, and I survived it, but not without repercussions.

While I was in the midst of my seven-day quarantine, I quickly learned that the forced isolation of being ill partnered with having no social contact, other than food being left at my door, would take a toll on my mental well-being.

Over the past two years, I did everything I could to evade COVID, simply because of the unknown outcome of this virus on each individual. But like every life experience, good and bad, I learned a great lesson and want to share it with all of you.

If you are a regular Mama G follower, you know my serious mantra of using “food as medicine” paired with a little calculated exercise, and a big dose of preventative health care and advocacy of one’s health.

It is truly the only control we have in this crazy world in which we get to live. As a huge proponent and participant of mental health care throughout my adult life, nothing saved me from the consequences of the loneliness and isolation I suffered during those days when I knew I could spread this disease to others in my very full house.

There was a point when my daughter had recovered and started moving about that I literally begged her to have dinner in bed with me and watch a movie.

All this being said, we all have suffered in some way from the harmful effects of this pandemic. The six degrees of separation we have witnessed has taken a toll on every human across the world.

However, if you have never suffered from isolation and loneliness, perhaps let this be a reminder of all of those individuals who sit alone and secluded and how you might bring a little light into their lives.

Mental health always seems to be at the top of the headlines when “bad” things happen, yet if each one of us can just be a little more aware and mindful of someone, perhaps a neighbor who lives alone, or the man you see alone in the pew every week at church, or your friend who is going through cancer treatments, and just reach out, the world would be a better place.

I know personally that when I was sick in bed, I barely had the energy or desire to pick up the phone. But sending a message, dropping off a favorite meal or a bouquet of flowers, and if circumstances allow, having an actual conversation on the phone or in person, or taking a walk with the individual and just listening with an empathic ear, will do a world of good not only for this lonely human, but your own heart and soul as well.

When life hands you lemons, share them.

Gina Cousineau is a local nutrition expert who specializes in weight loss and helping her clients improve their health. As a trained chef with her BS in Dietetics and MS in Integrative and Functional Nutrition, her goal is to help her clients enjoy every morsel they consume, learning how to move with ease in the kitchen while using their “food as medicine.” Subscribe to her weekly newsletter for complimentary cooking classes, recipes, webinars and more at mamagslifestyle.com, or reach her at mamag@mamagslifestyle.com and 949.842.9975.

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