Because of its unprecedented nature, something never experienced in our lifetime, the present pandemic has indirectly brought about the rise of mental health issues in the Philippines, according to recently published data. Specifically, a rise in moderate-to-severe clinical anxiety as well as moderate-to-severe cases of depression have been recorded, meriting much needed psychological support for sufferers.
Bolstering this fact is how renowned psychologist Dr. Randy Dellosa, in his private psychotherapy practice and as a life coach, saw a surge in clients seeking his consult, relating how some people have “turned pessimistic and cynical, in light of the current state of affairs.”
For entrepreneurs, for example, ensuring business continuity, taking care of employees, and having access to funding are but some of the challenges that they’ve had to address.
Yet, in the face of these difficult times, it is reassuring to know how the family remains as the most important social group in Filipino culture—our identity distinctly marked by close-knit family ties that includes even extended family members: grandparents, aunts, and uncles.
This presence of family has greatly helped in alleviating the difficulties brought about by the current pandemic, says Dr. Dellosa, who’s also known for his wholistic and creative approach to healing.
“There are extended families that offer good support,” he says. “We are truly lucky and blessed if the extended family is supportive.”
Feelings of isolation and uncertainty
Dr. Dellosa further observes that among the negative feelings that families have had to deal with at this time, one of the most pervasive is the sense of being trapped and isolated, an unfortunate consequence of the imposed quarantines and the extended lockdowns. Adding to that is the seemingly unshakable feeling of financial insecurity coupled with an uncertainty about the future – the feeling of not being in control and having no plan in place.
“It’s the unexpectedness of what can happen, the fear of getting sick – whether it’s oneself or a loved one,” he says.
Stress and our physical health
These pent-up feelings, as they continue to build up, can adversely influence both the mental and physical health aspect of people.
An example Dr. Dellosa cites is how anger – “kumukulo ang dugo (makes my blood boil)” – can lead to high blood pressure. Or how irritation can be the trigger for psoriasis, as well as headaches. Even the stress of having a sick family member or experiencing an unplanned medical emergency in the family can have a physical effect on our bodies. All these manifestations, he says, are a form of communication, and shows that we’re keeping too much negative feelings bottled up inside, which, has been found to cause more serious physical issues in the long run.
So, keeping stress in check is not only important but vital to good health. Says Dr. Dellosa: “Whenever we feel emotional stress, it carries with it toxic energy. If there’s no way to vent this out and express it externally, it then gets trapped and piles up in the body. And where does this negative energy transfer to? It manifests itself in our body organs.”
A shift in family dynamics
Fortunately, helping keep things together and easing the various tensions in these trying times, is healthy family dynamics. “Just the mere fact that the family is still the basic unit of society is already, in itself, protective,” says Dr. Dellosa. “Mentally, emotionally, physically, and health-wise.”
While Dr. Dellosa concedes that some family members may not see eye to eye, which in turn can cause friction or worse, break-ups, the cases of which increased globally last year, he nevertheless stresses how the family unit is inherently protective against feelings of isolation. “Filipinos are social beings,” Dr. Dellosa says. “The family has been indispensable in averting further mental issues that may eventually lead to physical illness.”
Keeping a proactive attitude
Because preserving our overall health while also safeguarding the future is of utmost importance, Dr. Dellosa emphasizes that there should be a shift in our mindsets. It is important to keep a proactive attitude and be open when facing difficult truths, for the sake of ourselves and our loved ones.
“One has to set aside being emotionally reactive while maintaining an attitude of being proactive,” he says. “If you allow your emotions to get the better of you, you’re bound to lose.”
Proactivity, Dr. Dellosa further explains, means that it’s better to confront and openly discuss the potentially problematic situations head on and to look for and mobilize contingency plans in order to be prepared even before these problems arise. Families need to sit down and talk, no matter the differences in each of their opinions. Specifically, setting priorities and identifying what’s urgent is key, so you can face these problems squarely, taking hold of your feelings to fuel positive, proactive action.
In line with Dr. Dellosa’s valuable words of advice, one thing is clear. Having a trusted partner, whether family or another ally, is crucial in tiding over difficult times. Having a solid partner like AXA Philippines by one’s side, with their goal of reducing financial vulnerability due to sickness, you can confidently take charge and secure the wellbeing of our loved ones and ourselves. With its suite of robust insurance and investment products, including an all-new offer coming soon, peace of mind and a secure future may be easily within reach. To learn more, book an appointment with an AXA financial partner today by visiting https://bit.ly/AXAHCA_DRD.