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Monday, December 13, 2021

Newsletter: How do you take care of you? Doctors Without Borders shares wellness tips for the pandemic

11/27/2021 12:23:56 AM

Author's Note: Probably one of the questions popping in everyone's heads recently—aside from “How are you doing?” is “How do you take care of yourself?”

Take a look in the press release below as Doctor Without Borders shared a couple of testaments on how our mental health has been gravely affected by the pandemic. The advocacy organization also shared tips on how to cope up for the betterment of ourselves, especially in uncertainty times. Read on.


The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough for everyone. Lyka Lucena, a mental health social worker, worked in a Doctors Without Borders project in Tondo, Manila, in the Philippines in 2020. She shared, “I was able to support people in urban poor communities. For those who are directly affected by the illness, they shared with me that their anxiety arises from the possibility of infecting their loved ones. For the other people who were indirectly affected, they were facing mental health concerns due to social issues, such as stigma, discrimination, and also economic concerns, such as losing their jobs and not having enough money to support their families.”
It’s been difficult for so many people. But the good news is that you can do something about it. 

Mental health and mental wellness 

Mental health is a state of well-being in which a person is able to cope with the regular stresses of work and home life and is able to make a contribution within their community (World Health Organization). 
Mental health is a big part of your overall health and well-being. It has a big impact on how you think, feel and act. It affects your life choices, how you deal with other people, and especially how you handle stress.

Mental health support is crucial in times like this. An important component to mental health support is establishing wellness or healthy routines to help you cope. Lyka shares how she provided support in Tondo. 
“I was able to support them by listening to their thoughts and feelings, and normalizing their fears and anxieties. I also made it to a point to highlight their strengths, so that they can be reminded of their capacities to get through this pandemic. It's not easy, but we really need to find our coping strategies. One way we do this is by promoting healthy coping strategies, and equipping them with a few more positive coping strategies, such as relaxation techniques, or breathing exercises.”

Wellness tips for the pandemic

What are healthy routines and activities that can improve your mental wellness? Here are some things you can try. 

1. Be mindful of your emotions. Emotions are a big part of who you are. It influences your thinking, your feelings and your behavior. Try to avoid letting unpleasant emotions take control of your life.
2. Develop a daily routine. It is normal to feel anxious and or uneasy. This pandemic has brought about so many changes and challenges, and you might feel like so many things are uncertain. However, there is one thing you can do to feel some sense of control: establishing a regular routine!
3. Exercise! Regular exercise benefits not just your physical well-being but also your mental health. Studies have shown that exercise can reduce stress, help you recover from depression and anxiety, and improve your sleep.  
4. Think of what you can control. It’s important to acknowledge that there are things in your life that you can control, and things that you can’t. Look at the things that are bothering you, and think about how much control you may or may not have over them. This sort of reflection can be very helpful. 
5. Find things to be thankful for. Feeling grateful can make you happy! Gratitude is about appreciating what you have and being happy with it. Gratitude helps us focus on seeing positive things even in unpleasant situations. Not only does this make us happier, but it can also improve problem-solving skills. 
6. Start a journal. Some people have a gratitude journal, and this is part of a practice called journal therapy. This can help manage your emotions, and help improve your mental health. Use a journal to write anything and everything that you want -- from what you’re thinking in your head to what you’re feeling in your heart! 
7. Try expressing yourself with art and color. Art and color therapy to can help you de-stress, communicate, and express yourself. This can include drawing, sketching, painting, making sculptures, coloring, and many different creative forms.  

Supporting and promoting wellness in our projects

Whether the emergency is a natural disaster, conflict, or an epidemic, mental health is a crucial part of the support Doctors Without Borders has provided to patients for years. 

In the Philippines, 370,000 people were displaced by the conflict between the Philippine armed forces and two pro-Islamic State factions, the Maute group and Abu Sayyaf, in the Marawi City, Mindanao, in 2017.  We offered psychological first aid to those affected, and have since remained in the area to provide support to internally displaced people and returnees.

In Malaysia, Doctors Without Borders responds to the gaps in access to healthcare faced by refugees and asylum-seekers. Our team, including psychologists and mental health counsellors, provides comprehensive mental health support, including mental health education, psychosocial support and counselling, via community-based mobile clinics and a fixed clinic in Penang, Malaysia.  

Indonesia is prone to natural disasters, and so in coordination with the Ministry of Health Crisis Center, our teams actively respond and support mental health activities for victims, including group mental health counselling. During the COVID-19 pandemic, our teams has focused on mental health campaigns to support and capacity build health care workers and the population with coping tools.

One such tool is the newly launched Doctors Without Borders wellness activity book, titled, “How Do You Take Care Of You?” the activity book includes coloring pages, wellness tips, journaling pages, and many more. (Download here:

Judy Marie Santiago Aladin, a mother and entrepreneur, says of the activity book, “I'm a first-time mom, and I experienced symptoms of anxiety and depression until July this year. In October, I finally decided to seek professional help, and I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. I was surprised to find out that the contents of the activity book included all of my psychologist's recommendations so that I can heal and recover. This will be a helpful resource for moms who have been experiencing postpartum stress, anxiety, and depression, and are yet to seek professional help.” 

Have you been struggling to find coping techniques that work for you? Download the activity book for some helpful tips and guides: 

Author: slickmaster | © 2021 The SlickMaster's Files

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