SEHA Encourages the Community to Adopt a Healthy Physical and Mental Lifestye
• As part of SEHA’s psychological support program designed for the community amidst COVID-19, the network reiterates the need to ignore fake news
• Consultant psychiatrist shares tips to help the community overcome adverse circumstances, become a positive influence, assist senior citizens and benefit from extra time
Abu Dhabi, 20September 2020: In line with its SEHA’s psychological support program, Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), the UAE’s largest healthcare network is urging the community to embrace a healthy lifestyle amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by following a balanced diet, drinking sufficient water, exercising, and sleeping adequately to maintain overall health, including mental wellbeing.
Dr. Anne Elzein Omara, Consultant Psychiatrist, Al Ain Hospital, said: “It is imperative that we understand the virus and are aware of its movement and symptoms. Knowing what we are facing helps keep us calm and encourages us to think rationally instead of being easily swayed by rumors and fake news. We have to continuously remind ourselves that this situation is temporary, and we will come out of it.”
Dr. Amara’s advice is part of SEHA’s psychological social support program developed especially for the community during the pandemic, which emphasizes the need to pay attention to the source of information or news, and to rely only on authentic sources of information like the World Health Organization and local health authorities. The program also suggests selecting specific times during the day to read the news, not including bedtime as that increases stress, anxiety and sleep disturbance.
“The fear we are all feeling is a normal reaction to these unprecedented and abnormal circumstances. Fear is a basic emotion and a natural instinct in human beings, which stimulates us to take the necessary measures to protect ourselves. The COVID-19 pandemic has spread fear of the unknown among us as a result of the newness of the situation and the lack of credible information on the nature of the virus, its origin, its composition and the lack of treatment or vaccine for it,” continued Dr. Amara.
“We must learn how to control this fear before it transforms into a pathological condition, which can lead to a person losing his ability to continue his or her normal daily tasks. It can also lead to increased heartbeat, sweating or shivering and a state of distress.”
Overcoming Adverse Circumstances
Dr. Amara recommends common methods that help people overcome adverse situations – meditation, living in the present moment, enjoying the time at hand, and not thinking about the future or the past. A simple way of doing this is sitting in your favorite chair with gentle lighting and enjoying the activity, be it drinking a cup of coffee or juice, so that the focus is only on the temperature of the coffee or the taste of the juice. This is a valuable tool that helps focus attention and halts worrisome thoughts about the past or the future.
The consultant psychiatrist also shares tips to control fear, particularly in light of how it impacts a person’s interaction with themself, and to spot questions that fill his or her thoughts, like what if I contract the virus, what if I lose a member of my family, what if I lose my job. Questions of a negative nature like these make a person live a scenario that has not taken place and may never happen. Dr. Amara encourages people to replace negative questions with positive and helpful questions like how do I protect myself and my family, how do I benefit from the extra time at home, how do I increase my income. These will allow us to feel more confident and encourage us to plan better for the future.
Individual Roles in the Family
Individuals should be role models for their families, encompassing calmness and composure – negative feelings are extremely contagious and easy to spread among family members, especially between children and senior citizens. It is also important to encourage open discussions where family members are comfortable sharing their feelings and concerns, particularly with children, because stored feelings can easily transform into misunderstood behaviors that affect studies and general mental health.
It is also helpful to re-delegate tasks amongst family members. The current situation has brought on extra chores like sanitizing groceries, completing laundry more often, home-schooling, etc. These can add pressure if they fall on one person, so dividing tasks equally between the family will help instill feelings of compassion and sympathy among members.
Paying Attention to Senior Citizens
Senior citizens are the most vulnerable to the disease as a result of their lower immunity, the conditions they may already be facing and increased medication, so the family must pay extra attention to reassuring them and ensuring they abide by safety guidelines and precautionary measures.
Benefitting from Time
A lot of us have extra time on our hands, which is why Dr. Amara encourages the community to use this as an opportunity to rearrange priorities, reflect and discover ourselves by learning new skills and talents. It is a great time to improve relationships, especially those that have been impacted over the years, and to set ourselves new goals to achieve, whether they be related to personal, professional, wellbeing or social growth.
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