Tools to cope with the pandemic and lockdown

The Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur conducted an online forum on Emotional Tools to Cope with the Current Pandemic and Lockdown with the Director of CAREERsense at HELP University, Eric Bryan Amaladas, on Feb 16.

Feb 27, 2021

By Gwen Manickam
The Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur conducted an online forum on Emotional Tools to Cope with the Current Pandemic and Lockdown with the Director of CAREERsense at HELP University, Eric Bryan Amaladas, on Feb 16.

Before the event, a survey was conducted to gauge how people are coping during this pandemic. Some said they stay connected via social media platforms and perform self-care activities. Others took walks with friends or alone, watched online Masses and movies, or spent time reading.

Some rekindled old habits or took up new ones like learning to cook and bake from YouTube and gardening. One person said that besides spending time with God and family, he/ she took up crocheting and made shawls, bags and scarfs as a means of de-stressing. A few were taking things one day at a time, trying to remain positive while thanking God for each day.

On coping tools, Eric said, “This topic is important simply because COVID-19 has changed the way we live. We each have different coping styles and ways of managing our lives. Some are a little healthier than others.”

He said coping is often associated with distressing or challenging situations in life.

This pandemic has taught us about ourselves, and our resilience, especially in the face of uncertainty. Revisiting the topic of coping skills helps us remember some key life management skills we may have taken for granted.

In the past year, many of us have faced some form of anxiety, fear, dread and or grief.

“In psychology, we call this Ambiguous Grieving, as we are not sure or clear what the loss is, unlike when facing the death of a loved one,” said Eric. There is a sense of loss of normalcy, loss of safety, and we don’t know if there is an end in sight.

People are also struggling with different types of fatigue – be it information fatigue, caution fatigue or just plain fatigue.

“We must not forget, the marginalised are even more affected by this. Many are facing loss  of income, having to home school children with a lack of electronic devices, and shortage of food to name a few.

“How effectively we respond to problems and challenges is pretty much how we cope. There are two methods of dealing with this.”

Problem Focused Coping is where an individual takes proactive steps by engaging with the outside world, planning, strategising, creating action steps and arming themselves with the necessary tools to take on a particular challenge.

On the other hand, Emotional Focused Coping is directed inward. It involves changing how we deal with an immovable challenge and things we are not in control of.

Eric said both coping mechanisms are equally important as they address different kinds of challenges.

On how to assess one’s coping skills, the counsellor said, a simple way would be to compare yourself between this year and last year. If it appears you are working more hours, drinking more alcoholic beverages, experiencing fewer positive emotions, not sleeping well – it’s a sign you are not coping too well.

Circumstances outside the pandemic also influence the way we cope. If a person lives alone, is a caregiver or recently lost employment, then the coping mechanisms may be more challenging.

Resilience, which is a person’s ability to bounce back from adversity, is an important tool in coping with adversity. It is rooted in how we actively engage in making sense of a crisis and how we come out of it.

Other tried and tested techniques include Emotional Regulation which is to effectively manage and respond to different emotional situations. It means — what we do to make ourselves feel better when we are feeling down rather than allowing negative feelings to control us.

“If we do not deal with certain emotions in our life, at some point they will blow up, either within or in some other form which will also affect other people. Often, a loved one is on the receiving end, simply because we are likely to get away with it.”

Cognitive Reframing is another emotional tool. Our thoughts affect our emotions and the focus here is how we change our thinking. Self-Care is another aspect of coping – it involves doing things you enjoy.

During this pandemic, it is also important to be mindful of the difference between social distancing and social isolation. We can and need to remain connected, be it differently than before.

As each person functions differently, the success of the suggested techniques also varies according to individual needs.

Total Comments:0