Emotional control and introspectivity in times of pandemic


(Andrik Langfield, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Augusto Antônio da Fonseca Neto, student of Medicine at the State University of Rio Grande do Norte – UERN, located in the city of Mossoró. He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Recently the world has suffered from a pandemic explosion that spread from the Asian continent, specifically in China, to the rest of the planet with great speed and lethality, factors that in themselves caused great commotion and fear for society ¹. Notwithstanding, countless doubts, as well as uncertainties regarding the evolution, treatment and prognosis have led health entities, such as the World Health Organization, to institute and advocate social isolation with as little contact as possible, in order to reduce the spread of the virus that causes the disease ².

Thus, social isolation, extremely strict in some countries, added to the alarming mortality, raises the important and necessary concern with the mental health of individuals who maintain isolation, restricting daily life to confinement at home ³. Thus, this fact raises the discussion about the measures to be taken to overcome situations of impaired mental health, which can lead to anxiety, panic, compulsive disorders and even depressive conditions, facts well elucidated by Freud in his studies on psychoanalysis 4.

In this sense, strengthening measures of emotional control in the face of introspective in times of pandemic is extremely necessary and effective. Adopting practices that stimulate reasoning and logic are very well commented in the literature, since they stimulate the cognitive center, fight the degeneration of the neural cortex and hippocampus like Alzheimer’s, in addition to avoiding depression and compulsive disorders 5,6. Therefore, it is interesting to play board games, puzzles, cards and more, since they combat idleness associated with isolation, stimulate neuronal synapses and enhance mental health 7.

Furthermore, in addition to measures that stimulate cognition, it is worth highlighting other practices that support the maintenance of mental health in the face of social isolation and distance. Among them, reading 8, music 9 and physical activities 10, very effective practices for stimulating the limbic system, whose benefit is the release of neurotransmitters that modulate the reward system of the cerebral cortex, leading to the sensation of pleasure for an achievement and happiness 11. Thus, in addition to combating depressive and anxious signs, such actions as physical practices are effective in preventing and controlling diseases with high blood pressure, diabetes and dyslipidemia, as well as improving quality of life and health.

Therefore, adopting measures that improve mental health are essential to get around the current period. It is up to the individual, then, to recognize the practice that is most comfortable for him, such as reading a book, listening to music, practicing physical activity or playing reasoning games, in order to fill the free time gaps with measures that support emotional control. Such measures corroborate the maintenance of mental health, combating signs of depression and anxiety for the period that extends with social isolation.


  1. Aghagoli G, Gallo Marin B, Soliman LB, Sellke FW. Cardiac involvement in COVID‐19 patients: Risk factors, predictors, and complications: A review. J Card Surg. 2020;1–4. https://doi.org/10.1111/jocs.14538.
  2. World Health Organization. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19): situation report – 70. 2020. https://www.who.int/docs/default‐ source/coronaviruse/situation‐reports/20200330‐sitrep‐70‐covid‐19. pdf?sfvrsn=7e0fe3f8_4. Accessed 20 April 2020.
  3. Patel V, Chisholm D, Parikh R, Charlson FJ, Degenhardt L, Dua T, Ferrari AJ, Hyman S, Laxminarayan R, Levin C, et al. Addressing the burden of mental, neurological, and substance use disorders: key messages from Disease Control Priorities, 3rd edition. Lancet. 2016;387(10028):1672–85.
  4. Freud, S. (1917 [1916-17]). Introductory Conferences on Psychoanalysis. In: Freud, S. Standard Brazilian edition of complete psychological works by Sigmund Freud. v. 16. Rio de Janeiro: Imago, 1990, p. 287-539.
  5. Guest, C. P. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology Proteomics, Metabolomics, Interactomics and Systems Biology. Laboratory of Neuroproteomics. Department of Biochemistry and Tissue Biology. Institute of Biology. Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42667-5.
  6. Pereira AC, Carvalho MC, Padovan CM. Both serotonergic and noradrenergic systems modulate the development of tolerance to chronic stress in rats with lesions of the serotonergic neurons of the median raphe nucleus. Behavioural Brain Research http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2017.06.037.
  7. Feuerstein, R. Beyond intelligence: mediated learning and the brain’s ability to change / Refael S. Feurestein, Louis H. Falik; foreword by John D. Bransford; translated by Aline Kaehler. – Petrópolis, RJ: Vozes, 2014.
  8. Bear MF, Connors BW, Paradiso MA. Neurosciences: unraveling the nervous system. 3rd. ed. Porto Alegre: Artmed, 2008, 857p.
  9. Batista NS, Ribeiro MC. The use of music as a therapeutic resource in mental health. Rev Ter Ocup Univ São Paulo. 2016 Sep.-Dec.; 27 (3): 336-41.
  10. Kohl, H. W., Craig, C. L., Lambert, E. V., Inoue, S., Alkandari, J. R., Leetongin, G., … & Lancet Physical Activity Series Working Group. (2012)The pandemic of physical inactivity: global action for public health. The Lancet380(9838), 294-305.
  11. De Martino B, Kumaran D, Seymour B, Dolan RJ. Frames, biases, and rational decision-making in the human brain. Science Magazzine. 2006;313:684-87.

About the author

Mr. Augusto Antônio da Fonseca Neto is studying Medicine at the State University of Rio Grande do Norte – UERN, located in the city of Mossoró. He is an affiliated member of the local IFMSA Brazil committee, in which he has participated for two years.

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