By María Carracedo (Fundación INTRAS- Spain)

One year ago the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Committee declared the coronavirus outbreak as a global health emergency based on the increasing rates of reporting of cases in China and other countries.

Since that moment, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed many people’s lives and, in particular, their daily habits. It has brought uncertainty, disrupted daily routines, economic pressures, social isolation and fear of becoming ill. This situation is exacerbated by the lack of knowledge of how long the pandemic will last, and what the future may bring.

Besides, information overload and unfounded rumours can leave people feeling out of control and unclear about what to do. As a result, individuals feel feelings of stress, anxiety, fear, sadness, and loneliness.  Thus, the mental health of the general population and certain vulnerable population groups may be significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

In these are unprecedented times. We need to work extra hard to manage our emotions well, we have a lot of mixed feelings these days, we feel anxiety, stress, bad mood , sadness, maybe even waves of panic and despair. All of them are natural reactions to face the situation but we need to deal with them.

For instance, our anxiety is helping us cope, bond together from a physical distance, and slow the spread of the virus. So our anxiety – while uncomfortable – is a good thing right now, especially if we manage it well.

At the same time, we must effort fully prevent panic contagion and create periods when we can be screen-free and calm, engaging our attention in normal daily activities.  There are many techniques we can use to keep hope, optimism and good mood despite the uncertainty. Like mindfulness, meditation, practicing sports, writing therapy…improv is one of them and it is more needed than ever because it offers us opportunities to share lightness and humor that help us to stay mentally and physically healthy, because it also boosts the immune system.

Laughter makes you feel good. And this positive feeling remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss. Laughter right now is a relief for all of us!

Picture by Musume Miyuki

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