Sun | Jul 5, 2020

Jamaicans urged to be innovative in coping in the pandemic

Published:Saturday | June 6, 2020 | 12:19 AM

WOMEN AND men are being encouraged to find innovative ways of dealing with grief and stress brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Veronica Salter, psychotherapist, made the observation during the Violence Prevention Alliance’s (VPA) online discussion entitled ‘Peace in the Pandemic’ held recently. The discussion focused on how women were coping with the spread of the coronavirus and on sharing positive initiatives locally that are working during the pandemic with respect to conflict resolution.

Salter noted that women were keeping a lot of extra stress bottled up inside and said that she was worried about COVID-19 fallout because of the additional stress on families.“We are left absolutely powerless in this situation, and when you take away somebody’s power from them and they have no control over what is happening, they have no control over their finances, they don’t know if tomorrow they will be laid off. The people who scrimmage from day to day, they can’t do that anymore,” she pointed out as she outlined the challenges now being faced by many families in Jamaica.

She said that all this anxiety will pile up and accumulate, which she said can create toxins in the body and cause illnesses, including breakdowns. She warned that if these stressors are not dealt with, they could cause a spike in violence in the home.

Sherine Montaque-Johnson, social worker with the VPA, who was also on the panel, said that the problem was further compounded as before the pandemic, women could release stress through other activities, such as attending church. However, some women no longer have that social outlet as some institutions are still closed and are hosting online services.

“Church would have been their only shelter, and the doors were closed. It was rough as when you see your church family, you can’t hug and talk. It became frustrating and tiring,” she pointed out.

Meanwhile, Berthlyn Plummer, social worker and grief counsellor with the Peace Manage Initiative, recommended the filtering of COVID-19 news from the media, which she said can cause information overload.

“Do not watch everything! Watch the most important thing that will help you to cope with your situation, but please look at other things, such as doing activities with the children so that they are able to get through this pandemic. We can’t be hoping to help people when we are broken, so we have to take care of ourselves,” she said.

Montaque-Johnson and Plummer both recommended outside gardening as an outlet to de-stress. The former underscored that farming is therapeutic and helps to relieve anxiety.

Salter recommended rest; listening to peaceful music; enjoying nature; engaging in ‘circular connective breathing’, which involves deep breathing; being grateful for life and health; and engaging in prayer as ways of coping with stress.