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CMHA Singapore: Managing Pandemic Anxiety

CMHA Singapore: Managing Pandemic Anxiety
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CMHA Singapore recently held an event with Project Green Ribbon exploring how people can manage anxiety due to the pandemic.

Earlier in June City Mental Health Alliance Singapore (CMHASG) and Project Green Ribbon (PGR) organised a webinar, with Dr Jasmine as the speaker, on the topic of Facing Pandemic Anxiety. 

Here are some key takeaways:

There is a difference between our normal anxious feeling and this pandemic anxiety.

The normal anxious feeling is like an overprotective alarm system that sometimes blasts at us with what ifs, worst case scenarios and negative beliefs. This pandemic anxiety is different. It is not just feeling uncertain or negative belief, it is real.  We see people dying, the virus spreading, lives affected, we are isolated, experienced financial stress and grieved of loss of routine etc.  It caused us to be scared of the future more than just being worried about the future.

Why is it important to feel safe?

Feeling safe is important as it gives you the sense of security, stability and in a good place.  Anxiety comes when you do not feel safe.

Coping with this pandemic

The pandemic uncertainty caused us to feel anxious.  Unlike other uncertainty we faced, it is totally new, unknown and unpredictable. In this Phase 2 Heighten Alert (P2HA) in Singapore, many felt a greater heaviness because we went from hopeful (after seeing a decline in cases, and progressive roll out of vaccinations) to disappointment when the cases shot up and we were put under P2HA.   

It is better to reflect on how we had managed and overcome the challenges so far instead of asking how to deal with tomorrow. It gives us more assurance and helps us feel safer to handle the unknown ahead of us.

Another technic is to reframe our thinking.  Instead of thinking or saying we are struggling or suffering, say we are conquering and overcoming. 

What should I do when I feel mentally tired, moody, irritable, and emotionally low?

This could be due to the over exposure to social media and the news.  When your mind constantly filters what is real or fake, or things are looking better or worse, it will be exhausted.  Limit your time on reading news on Covid and restrict your visit only to websites providing reliable sources of info.

This is what you can do to manage anxiety:

1) Have a routine .  Establish a daily ritual and a day to day routine.  It gives us the feeling of being in control and remove the feeling of uncertainty.

2) Manage our attitude

  • Live by hope and not by fear. Hope is one emotion that keep us going. Many people because of disappointment dare not hope again.  We can create as many small things to be hopeful for.
  • Rest. Have adequate sleep. Rest is when work or movement ceased.
  • Relax. Relax is having downtime. Different from rest. Relaxation is the mind’s way of rejuvenating, occurs while we are awake.

Being in control will bring the sense of safety and security.

Thank you to Dr Jasmine Badge for sharing her experience.

You can watch the event here.