Photos like these could be go-to photos when news of the pandemic are turning for the worse. The recently imposed ECQ or strictest lockdown protocols which started August 6, 2021 for Metro Manila, for example, the spiking cases, the inadequate public health services for affected Filipinos, and the increasing cases for the fear-invoked Delta or even Lambda variant, are just some of these.
In varying degrees, lockdowns and social distancing are contrary to the very nature of people as social beings. Perhaps Filipinos even more so, where our concept of self often includes the extensive family circles. We know that in practical terms, lockdowns and social distancing thins out our normal support systems, whether from families or friends. We have to develop alternative means to keep these connections alive — through kamustahan phone calls, chats, emails, or other similar means.
The fear, worry and stresses that are normal under past situations now become spiked too in this pandemic where a lot of things, especially government support, are so uncertain.
It is important that we look after our mental, not just our physical health. Ensuring our mental health is more important now, especially if other members of the family are also dependent on us to care for them (young kids, older relatives).
One of the easiest ways to take charge of your wellness can be done by picking up a book. Not only is reading a great way to stay entertained while you are socially distancing, but it has been shown to improve overall mental health. Some benefits of reading are mentioned here:
- Stress reduction. An article in The Telegraph reports a study (2009) that reveal stress was reduced among participants who read by almost 70%, and it is said to be more effective than listening to music. Even as little as 6 minutes can help, but reading for 30 minutes (half of your lunch break!) has a similar stress reduction effect as yoga exercises for the same duration.
- Night time winding down. Routinely reading a real, physical book for even a few minutes each night also helps our sleeping pattern. Take note a good night’s rest is best for our mental state. Make sure your book genre is not of the horror or mystery-adventure series type as stories like these keep our mind racing and stimulated instead of helping us relax.
- Books build Knowledge. It can never be said enough that what you don’t learn from school, you can discover via a book. Reading also improves our vocabulary and helps us travel the world and cross time boundaries.
- Empathy Books. There are special books, especially fiction books, where characters speak to each other and express their opinions, desires and beliefs. These books may help enhance our empathy or our ability to understand or share the feeling/s of another person.
- Mental self-help books, and fiction as therapy. Reading ‘self-help’ books and fiction can help you feel more connected and can help people who may be dealing with depression or anxiety. It allows your imagination to become more engaged and you connect emotionally to characters and reflect your own feelings, problems and desires as you read.
While not comprehensive, here are some new and good books to read, published by Filipinos:
- Covid 19 Journals: Women Writing Women. Published by Women Writing Women and Gantala Press, Inc. ©2021, Labiste, Serafica, Mendoza and Vallido, eds. An anthology of articles about surviving and living the pandemic from the perspective of various women, it has a chapter on Self-Care and Compassion with four good articles in it.
- Snow White (Les Chubby Princessesie Series) written and published by Vanessa ©2019. We can never have enough of good laughs. Mandie Lee, author of My Genie Lover, describes the book as “an incredibly fun, engaging, and witty retelling of the story of Snow White… it is a story of hope, self-love and empowerment.”
- Ugh (Vol. 1) written and illustrated by Julienne Dadivas, published by Haliya Publishing ©2021. A light reading sattire comic book, each page speaks to a whole new GenZ generation.
- My Paths to Happy by Charlotte Reed, published by Andrews McMeel Publishing ©2021. Very limited copies available at Fully Booked stores. In the book, Charlotte Reed shares her own experience of depression as well as the practices that ultimately helped her through the darkest time of her life.
Other links to reading and mental health, or simply articles on mental health you might be interested in:
- GMS. The Mental Health Benefits of Reading (https://www.gms.ca/living-well/the-mental-health-benefits-of-reading). Sept 7, 2020
- Martinez, Katie. Reading Books Can Benefit Your Mental Health (https://www.stepupformentalhealth.org/reading-books-can-benefit-hour-mental-health/). November 2, 2020