Keeping stress from coronavirus crisis at bay through arts | Inquirer News

Keeping stress from coronavirus crisis at bay through arts

/ 04:19 PM April 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — In times of crisis, exploring the world of arts and other creative activities may be helpful in keeping stress at bay, according to the chief of the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH).

Dr. Roland Cortez, NCMH head, noted that some people are experiencing “extensive and tremendous” stress during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, especially with quarantine protocols restricting the public from going out to the streets.

According to Cortez, spending more time in creative activities that we can do in the comfort of our homes may help our minds take a break from the tension that this crisis has triggered.


“Of course we can’t unwind because we are on a lockdown basis but we should try to do something, other activities that we enjoy, like for example learning new skills. You may opt to learn expressive arts that perhaps you may be good at in the past but because of the busyness of the present work you could not do,” he said in a virtual press briefing on Tuesday.


“You can go into poetry, you can go into painting. These are expressive arts that are excellent to provide emotional outlet using all these creative processes,” he added.

On top of these activities, listening to good music, playing musical instruments, watching good movies, and reading inspiring books may also help, according to the health official.

“Perhaps para makapag-exercise din (Maybe, so that we can also exercise, we can do it) by cleaning the house. The most important thing is to take care of your body, of course. It’s not always nice to be sleeping there. Take care of your body,” added Cortez.

According to him, taking deep breaths every now and then and being mindful are also advised by mental health experts.

“If you know how to meditate or practice mindfulness by just closing your eyes, thinking of the best activities that you did or best moments in life, then that would be best,” he noted.

While the quarantine has limited the public from doing outdoor work, the NCMH chief pointed out that this may be an opportunity to interact more with family members inside our homes.


But for those undergoing mental health issues but do not have someone to talk to, the NCMH can be contacted through its “crisis hotlines” at 0917-899-USAP (8727) and 989-USAP (8727).

These hotlines, which were set up in May 2019, operate 24/7.

Before the pandemic started, the NCMH received an average of 102 calls a day. During this time of crisis, the number has almost doubled, with the average daily count of calls pegged at about 200, according to Cortez.

The enhanced community quarantine in Luzon started on March 17, restricting more than 50 million Filipinos in their homes. It has been extended until April 30 but was extended again in high-risk areas until May 15. Quarantine measures were also set up in other places in the country.

Nationwide, the number of individuals who have been infected with the virus has reached 7,958 as of Tuesday afternoon. This figure includes 530 who have died and 975 who have recovered.


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Keeping a healthy mind during the COVID-19 pandemic

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TAGS: Coronavirus, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19, mental health

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