Flourish: âThink well. Feel well. Stay wellâ
International Counselling & Psychology Centre founder and director Lissy Ann Puno.

Flourish: ‘Think well. Feel well. Stay well’

WORDSWORTH - Mons Romulo (The Philippine Star) - September 1, 2020 - 12:00am

Lissy Ann Puno is in private practice in Singapore as founder and director of the International Counselling & Psychology Centre. She has 24 years of experience in psychological health and wellness, and has practiced in the US, the Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia.

In recent months, Lissy Ann has conducted various topics under her Care & Wellness Series in the Time of COVID-19 such as “Self-Care: Be Your Own Emotional Coach,” “Growing Your Relationship While On Quarantine,” “Raising Resilient Children, Coping with WFH,” Managing Stress, Worry and Anxiety,” and “Rising and Recovering Post Pandemic: How to Reinvent Yourself.”

After more than 170 days of quarantine and with uncertainty still looming because of the COVID-19 virus, fatigue in various areas of our lives has increased to the point that the national government has recognized the problem and is alarmed with the rising cases of suicide due to this pandemic.

Speaking through Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, the government sought the help of the Catholic Church and other denominations and religions to provide counseling and guidance to their members and followers who are undergoing depression.

On how to cope with this situation, Lissy Ann says, “With this fatigue caused by the pandemic, the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness can’t help but be felt. There is an increasing concern for a mental health pandemic that may follow — if not already here. The ‘COVID blues’ can be described as feelings of anxiety, uncertainty and sadness that come and go that are experienced alongside the quarantine/lockdown period.”

She continues, “Anxiety is a normal physical and emotional reaction when we are surrounded by an uncertain outcome like how the virus was evolving and affecting life. There was worry and fear about how we would manage the effects that it had on our lives. When we sense danger around us, we are programmed to respond with ‘fight-flight-freeze’ reaction. The constant fight-flight-freeze reaction can lead to feeling stress and panic in our overall function.

“It is important to manage the COVID blues. An increase in anxiety can put our mental state at risk. Now, more than ever,  we need to stay a healthy person who manages both physical and emotional health and well-being, and actively choose options to achieve this. Being healthy is about balance — not too much or too little of anything. Planning, reflecting, and making healthy choices will be essential moving forward post pandemic.”

Lissy Ann’s sound advice is for us to make sure that we keep balance on these areas: healthy diet, working hours, positive thoughts, caring relationships, fun and recreation, environmental safety, and news and social media.

(More information available at www.intlcounselling.com.)

Is “fight-flight-freeze” the only response we have at this time of uncertainty? Lissy Ann gives us the concept of  “flourish” as a standard of well-being that is worth considering post pandemic. Flourishing in life requires regular effort to be able to cope with setbacks in and be happier. Lissy Ann shares with us some elements for us to flourish.

Feel positive emotions and keep a positive mindset.

A positive mindset will allow you to feel gratitude, joy and contentment, which maintain a sense of well-being. This will help us believe that we can cope and handle negative circumstances that we may be experiencing at this time.  Stay realistic about the situation but also try to look for some good aspects that you can focus on.

Learn new things.

Stay curious about new things that you can learn. This will keep you engaged with new ideas. A source of achievement helps boost confidence that will help you cope with trying times that may emerge unexpectedly. Share your skills and knowledge with others in the community as well.

Observe the world around you.

We need to stay interested with the future to stay hopeful. Know that there is so much to discover in the world around you.  Stop and smell the flowers and plants. Notice your environment. Be mindful when you go for walks and be mindful of everything that you do. Stay in the moment and do not dwell too much on the past.

Uplift your strength and competence.

Instead of feeling helpless and hopeless, activate your competent and capable side. In the midst of despair and distress, believe in the powerful self. Be kind to yourself even when things don’t go as planned.  Accept where you are right now so that you can also be more accepting of others.

Relationships that connect.

Relationships are very important right now in our lives. It is a source of safety, happiness and connection. It is reassuring to know that we are not alone. Healthy relationships with family and friends provide love, care and purpose to keep going for one another. A sense of belonging and significance allows us to be hopeful.

Imagine goals to look forward to.

Feeling good about the future will keep a positive mindset.  Goals, dreams and ambition motivate us to keep going and to keep working hard. Yes, it is quite challenging to do this at this time but take smaller steps towards your goal right now. Take it day by day so it would feel more manageable rather than impossible.

Realistic goals that give us direction are essential at this time.

Self care of the body.

Exercise is one of the most important ingredients that will improve our mood, prevent the “blues” and lift our spirits.  Keeping things simple, eating healthy, getting enough rest and sleep as well as unplugging our minds from technology, are sure ingredients to maintaining our physical health.

Help others around in the community.

Connect to something bigger than yourself and your family. Seek opportunities to care and share with others. Show solidarity with one another during times of uncertainty. Display cooperation that will benefit the greater good.

Every adversity that comes into our life has the potential seed to benefit those who find it.  Planted, nurtured and grown, what good might emerge? Look for ways that will keep you calm and productive in this new reality. Look for the opportunities.

Don’t discount the danger but also see what you can gain from the situation. Think well, feel well, stay well. *

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