Best of Vancouver: Health

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      Best grace under pressure during the pandemic

      Dr. Bonnie Henry

      While the popularity of B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry may not be what it was during the onset of the pandemic, she has shown resilience in the face of criticism and almost unprecedented challenges.

      Everyone from armchair critics, antimaskers, and conspiracy theorists to worried parents and teachers to irate business owners have been questioning her abilities, knowledge, and decisions.

      Yet she carries on with her calm demeanour to help us navigate through what is probably the most challenging crisis of our lifetimes. Although she works with a team of experts, she is the one who takes the brunt of the blame, including death threats.

      However, she has proven that leadership and strength can take forms other than what people may traditionally recognize, and that can include being kind, calm, safe, and empathetic.

      Best reason for solo daily dance parties during the pandemic

      A UBC­-led national study found that after pandemic measures were implemented earlier this year, the biggest and most prolonged drops in physical activity among Canadians were found among everyday movements such as climbing stairs, walking around, and even standing up from a seated position.

      The solution? Implement ways, even scheduling movement breaks, to ensure you don’t stay stationary, especially if working from home. It’s not just for your physical health but for your mental well-being, too.

      And, if necessary, put on some music when you’re alone and dance like no one’s watching—because no one is.

      Best reasons to stretch yourself

      With many of us working from home, and not being out and about as much as we used to, or spending inordinate amounts of time binge-watching, something important to think about is how to maintain flexibility to counter prolonged sitting. There are plenty of online and livestreamed yoga classes to take in, including from local studios like Yyoga and Hot Yoga 101.

      If yoga is too challenging for you or not to your liking, an alternative to consider is stretching. Guided stretch classes, such as those offered by Stretch Therapy Vancouver, can lead you through a series of stretches that can help you counter muscle compression or stiffness without trying to pursue a specific pose. If willpower is the issue, you need to schedule them into your day as mandatory until it becomes routine. Stretching or doing brief yoga poses before and after work can provide a physical and mental transition period.

      For those suffering from stress or insomnia, releasing muscle tension through yoga or stretching, especially before bedtime, can also help you get better quality and deeper sleep.

      Best unanticipated upside of the pandemic lockdown

      While the pandemic has caused extensive hardships for many people, something that did benefit from lockdowns was the natural world. With everything from vehicles prevented from driving through Stanley Park to airplanes being grounded at Vancouver International Airport, nature, wildlife, and our own health were all given a breather, with a reduction in everything from CO2 emissions to noise pollution to human presence and consumption. With the trajectory of the climate crisis, this may be something governments around the world may need to consider doing on a semiregular basis to save our world.

      Best reason to thank frontline workers

      Although people may not be doing the 7 o’clock cheer anymore, the next time you encounter a frontline worker, be sure to thank them for their efforts in the past, present, and future—because we’re going to be living with this pandemic for some time to come, regardless of whether or not a vaccine is available.

      With the roller-coaster ride of case numbers going up and down across the globe, with many unpredictable twists and turns to come, we need to be thankful for all the help we can get.

      Best arguments against antimaskers, conspiracy theorists, chronic questioners, and the like

      One of the most frequent arguments by those who oppose lockdowns, masks, and health measures is that the death rate is low. What can easily be pointed out—which they ignore—is that prevention is not just about the number of deaths. What is not reflected in death counts is how challenging symptoms can become.

      That’s not to mention the strange long-term side effects, such as fatigue or recurring symptoms, that aren’t fully understood. Also, if health precautions, including wearing masks, weren’t in place, the death count would obviously be much higher—a low death rate reflects the effectiveness of preventive measures.

      Most of all, how is it that random citizens without any medical training, experience, or lab research work somehow have more knowledge, expertise, and acumen simply from reading content online than those who have been working in the field for years? Go figure.

      Most unexpected local celebrity during the pandemic

      Nigel Howard

      As British Columbians tuned into to hear the latest updates from B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix, not only did they gain followings but someone else did as well.

      American Sign Language interpreter Nigel Howard, who translates Henry and Dix’s statements, also found a fan base (among both hearing and deaf audiences) and acclaim for his expressive communication skills. Because Howard (a UBC adjunct professor in linguistics) is deaf himself, he works with a hearing co-interpreter who translates what is said in sound into sign language, which Howard then translates into sign language complete with nuances, facial expressions, and other elements that nondeaf translators may not convey.

      Best hashtag


      It’s one way to acknowledge sacrifices made by frontline health workers in addressing the worst pandemic in a century.

      Best example of antiscience lunacy

      On October 17, a dozen antimask activists berated passengers on a B.C. ferry for wearing face coverings to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This occurred shortly before a “Freedom Mega Rally” in Vancouver, where more antimask conspiracy theorists showed up to whine about the media and Dr. Anthony Fauci.

      Yes, it’s sometimes inconvenient to wear a mask. But someone needs to inform these idiots that it’s more inconvenient being dead.

      Best reason a lack of quality education is a problem that endangers everyone

      Antimaskers, conspiracy theorists, chronic questioners, and the like.