Emotional stability and the COVID-19 pandemic: is it possible to reconcile them?

covid19 mental

(United Nations COVID-19 Response, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Marcelle Fumie Tamura, a 26 year old fourth year medical student & Ms. Bárbara Okabaiasse Luizeti, a 20 year old medical student at Unicesumar, Maringá, Brazil. They are 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 writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

The current pandemic situation generated by COVID-19 has a direct impact on society as a whole, negatively affecting health, education and the economy. In addition to the sudden changes in daily dynamics, the fear and insecurity generated by the disease itself and by all the plans that the context compromises can cause a feeling of incapacity, loss of control over one’s own life and cause an intense emotional breakdown.

The way of facing circumstances is individual and relative, despite the collective connotation. The way in which each deals with this troubled scenario can be affected by intrinsic factors (such as personality and genetic predisposition to mental disorders), or extrinsic factors (such as life experiences, family support, socioeconomic status, cultural factors).

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health integrates physical, mental and social well-being, so the absence of a materialized physical illness does not necessarily represent an unmistakable presence of complete health in individuals. Therefore, there are some measures that can be adopted to help maintain this biopsychosocial balance or prevent the aggravation of an existing psychiatric disorder, as explained below.

At first, the benefits of physical exercise that go beyond physiological aspects. In this regard, the direct influence on brain biochemistry, modulating neurotransmitters and hormones, acting positively in the control of anxiety and depression represent advantages arising from the referred practice. Still, following a balanced diet is also important; avoid sugary and industrialized foods and try to channel the “desire to eat” into another activity that promotes well-being, such as watching a movie, reading a book or talking with friends and family (even if virtually).

The integration of the daily actions described above, represents a valuable opportunity to recreate habits and affective bonds that are not possible due to the accelerated contemporary routine. In pointing to modernities, the online universe is immediately associated, at this point, it is worth mentioning the essentiality of filtering content on social networks, as the virtual world gains strength in this period. The ideal is to try to extract what is good in these media, to stop following content that lowers self-esteem or that provokes anxiety and profiles that publish news without scientific basis. Meditation is a practice that can help you focus on the present moment and reduce worry about the future, in addition to producing relaxation and stress reduction. There are several ways to practice it and there are great guided meditation apps for beginners.

Synthetically, there are several ways to get around the stress generated by the current pandemic, but each individual must create and adjust their income, in order to adapt to the changes imposed with the minimum of suffering. However, it is worth noting that not everyone will be able to adapt to the current situation without professional monitoring, and in such cases, the search for specialized care is essential.

About the authors

Marcelle Fumie Tamura is a 26 years old fourth year medical student at Unicesumar, Maringá, Brazil. She participates in the board of the Academic League of Sports Medicine, Exercise and Nutrology of Maringá (LAMEENM). She has a great appreciation for several areas of medicine, especially Psychiatry and Gynecology and Obstetrics. She seeks to disseminate information and content that contribute to improving people’s mental health and promoting the integration and equality of social minorities.

Bárbara Okabaiasse Luizeti is a 20 years old medical student at UniCesumar. She is  a member of CAMN (Academic Center Miguel Nicolelis), Scientific Director of LACGAM (Academic League of General Surgery and Anesthesiology of Maringá), Active member of The BRIGHTER Meta-Research Group and Regional Assistant of the Scientific Team of IFMSA Brazil. She has always been dedicated to helping vulnerable populations from extracurricular projects, and disseminating health information to lay people and academics.

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