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8 ways to cope during the COVID-19 threat, according to the Psychological Association of the Philippines

We live in very unfamiliar and very distressing times. The threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has forced airlines to shut down, malls to close, trading to halt, countries and cities to go on lockdown, our lives disrupted.

While the lucky ones get to stay home and just work from there, the the reality is, there's more of us who can't help but sway the guidelines the government has set, to be able to get some food on the table.

And then you factor in the actual disease: A more people are getting sick and worse, dying. As of Thursday night, a total of 217 cases have been reported in the Philippines.

It's very distressing, but it's not all doom and gloom. According to the Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP), there are ways to lessen your stress and anxiety during this crisis.

PAP released a mental health guide how to cope during these times.


Photo by Nazym Jumadilova on Unsplash
Photo by Nazym Jumadilova on Unsplash

1. Focus on what you can control. This includes things you can do to avoid the disease: wash your hands, clean and disinfect your laptop and phones, and whatever else you could be touching frequently.

2. You don’t need to know every single thing all the freaking time. Limit your consumption of news and social media and make sure what you’re paying attention to is verified.

The association warned about excessive consumption of news and social media content as those may increase your stress and anxiety. You don’t have to know your what your Tita Baby’s uncle of a friend’s cousin saw at the hospital the other day. And neither do you have to know it first. 

3. Set a routine. Take a shower, go to work (even if it's just in your sala). Get dressed for work as if you're going to a company outing (it’s casual but official), avail of your 15-minute coffee break the way you always have. Eat lunch at your prescribed time. 

4. Maintain good health. Go out for a morning walk — that’s exercise plus sun exposure means a dash of vitamin D, which is good for your immunity. Get enough sleep; you know, those working from home can actually wake up a few minutes later than usual as there is no traffic to deal with!

5. Set aside time for hobbies. Don’t forget to have some fun, kahit five minutes lang. You allowed an episode (or three) of your favourite show on Netflix, listen to your favourite record, read a chapter of that book, or sleep.

6. Reach out to a trusted friend. Social distancing is in right now but you can do that and still be with a friend. Call, text, zoom, FaceTime, Viber, WhatsApp — you know it.

7. Help out. As they say, the solution to depression is action. Find ways you can help your community during this crisis — you could donate to drives supporting the frontliners or the street vendors most affected by the quarantine. You can go check on your elderly neighbor, and consider including her needs on your next supply run.  Help your mom set up her online banking account. There are many ways you can help out.

8. Feeling mentally unhealthy? You can seek additional support from counselling services in your area. Or — have you heard of Mindcare Club? It’s a network of mental health counsellors and spaces in the Philippines the just launched the country’s first telemental health services in the country. Essentially, it’s mental health services you can avail online.

And if anything, PAP reminds everyone that it's not the end. Doctors and scientists are working hard to find a cure. There is help coming from the government — both national and local. A lot of private companies and businesses are doing what they can to help their employees and the country. A lot of people are recovering from COVID-19. 

You don't have to go about this alone. — Jannielyn Ann Bigtas/LA, GMA News