Much has been said about caring for our health and curbing the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), but there is something equally important that we should focus on: keeping our mental health in check. With the enhanced community quarantine, the rising number of confirmed cases, and the bleak stories we hear on the news, it is easy to experience feelings of anxiety and despondency especially during a crisis.
“Psychological first aid is an intervention that is given in the initial stages after a traumatic event, the goal being to process the distress that comes during this time,” Dr. Karina Therese Fernandez, Executive Director of Ateneo Bulatao Center, tells SmartParenting.com.phin an email interview.
“Each session will focus on psychosocial processing of the distress, discuss present coping strategies, and promote and strengthen adaptive function,” she adds.
Dr. Fernandez says that frontliners, PUIs, and PUMs are more vulnerable at this time because “they are all under an immense amount of stress.” Frontliners, in particular, need to nurture their emotional wellness because it can have a direct effect on their work: it will affect their attention, concentration, decision-making, and problem-solving, which are all necessary for them to be able to do their work efficiently and effectively, according to Dr. Fernandez.
Feelings of anxiety and stress, which are related to the uncertainty of the pandemic, are the biggest issues during this time. “People feel helpless because there are so many things that are out of their control,” Dr. Fernandez explains. “And what happens is that people’s minds start to jump to worries and pessimistic thoughts. Mentally and emotionally, they get ‘carried away’. This then affects mental health.”
A person’s mental health is also a factor in maintaining good physical health and in getting back to health faster when he becomes sick. “Studies show that stress can exacerbate physical illnesses. So good psychological well-being does the opposite,” Dr. Fernandez explains. For PUIs and PUMs who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, caring for their well-being is crucial so they can also boost their healing.
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How do you keep calm during quarantine? Click here for some tips from celebrity mom Bianca Gonzalez. For more stories on COVID-19, click here.