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  • Eating Disorders among Athletes

    Competitive sports provide a wide range of benefits to athletes. It improves your health, teaches you the value of teamwork and sportsmanship, and boosts your self-esteem and overall physical appearance. However, some sports emphasize shape and weight requirements that may put athletes at high risk of eating disorders. Some of the sports include: Bodybuilding Wrestling Gymnastics Figure skating Diving According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), female athletes are more likely to have eating disorders than male athletes. However, some male athletes also suffer from eating disorders. Additionally, athletes are at more risk of developing eating disorders than the general population. Currently, Anorexia nervosa and Bulimia nervosa are the two known common types of eating disorders. First, athletes with Anorexia tend to reduce their food intake due to the fear of gaining weight, which causes them to have low body weight. On the other hand, athletes with Bulimia have repeated episodes of binging a large amount of food, feelings of extreme guilt after eating, then followed by episodes of purging. All of these can vary in different forms. These eating disorders are difficult to detect among athletes because they show normal body appearance. Their eating behaviors are often not monitored by their coaches, nutritionist, or dieticians. Therefore, coaches and parents must regularly observe the athletes for possible signs. This include: Focus too much on body weight, shape, and appearance Exercising or training excessively Irregular menstruation for females Decrease performance Restrict/over intake of food Eating disorders are usually preventable and treatable but can become fatal when not treated. As the doctor says, prevention is so much better than cure. Thus, here are the possible ways we can do to help athletes: Promote positive body image Promote healthy dieting Support co-athletes towards a healthy body Avoid monitoring body weight. If needed, weigh athletes privately. Avoid talking about boy size, shape, and appearance publicly. Emphasize performance Reference: Turning Point of Tampa. (2020). Eating Disorders in Sports. National Eating Disorders Association. (2018). Eating Disorders & Athletes. Bowers, E.S. (2014). Why Athletes Develop Eating Disorders. Stanford Children's Health. (n.d.). Eating Disorders and Young Athletes

  • "Stigma as a Barrier in Mental Health Situation in the Philippines."

    To become a healthy person, one should make sure that he attends to the needs of his own body holistically. When we say holistically, this is a way of taking care of the body as a whole, not just the physical body but also the spirit and mind, to create a balanced life. Someone may be physically fit, socially active, and spiritually fulfilled but suffers from mental illness. Then, we cannot ultimately say that he is a healthy person because he could not address his body's needs mentally, and balance is not achieved. Nowadays, people tend to overlook the importance of good mental health, especially here in the Philippines. In a report by the World Health Organization in 2014, The Philippines had 2,558 cases of suicide deaths due to mental health problems in the year 2012 alone. These figures had risen until 2019 in which according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), there were 2,808 recorded deaths by suicide. It got even worse by 2020 with a 25.7% growth than the previous year where PSA had recorded 3,529 cases. With that said, if mental health is not prioritized, death cases related to mental health problems would not cease to increase, and individuals suffering from it would not be given the right to live. People do not talk about mental health here in the Philippines more often because of the thinking that it is a bizarre topic and the culture that we have emphasizes an environment of humor and resiliency amidst pain and suffering when in reality, they lack the knowledge about mental health and just the existence of stigmas makes it even worse. In a qualitative study by Tanaka et. al., (2018), stigma experienced by people with mental health problems, including epilepsy in the Philippines has been brought up. They said that the participants, which were the community health volunteers, caregivers of people with mental health problems, and the people with mental health problems, including epilepsy, themselves pointed out that they experience stigma due to cultural perspectives such as the concept of mental illness as a family disease. Stigmatizing attitudes toward people with mental illnesses are frequently expressed through comedy or hatred, while media portrayals of them are frequently associated with harm and misconduct (Rivera et al., 2017). The stigma of having mental health illness as humor and should not be taken seriously makes it even worse because of the derogatory terms used in casual conversations such as "baliw" or "abnoy". This just proves that Filipinos have simplistic minds and insensitive stigmas with regard to mental health problems. Stigma in mental health is an immense barrier to keeping an individual and a community healthy. It would result in a great deal of negative impact not only to individuals suffering from mental illness but also on society. Stigma affects the willingness of people having mental problems to seek professional help. When this happens, their situation could worsen and lead to a more dangerous feeling of demoralization and decreased self-worth and self-efficacy. This could also affect their way of living. It could compromise their work and social activity with other people. As aforementioned, it could affect the society because promotion and development of mental health programs in the Philippines would not be paid attention to and in the allocation of funds. Making of lawsuits to protect people with mental health problems and could be a hindrance in psychiatric researches because it would be difficult for the researchers to find data or patients to volunteer concerning the mental health problem that they are trying to seek treatment from. Interventions aimed at reducing stigma have been integrated into the community by raising awareness among children in schools, promoting inclusivity in the workplace, promoting that seeking professional help is not something to be ashamed of. Also maximizing the use of media to share information about mental health and how to deal with people who have it, similar to how it is done in the United States. They also have a month dedicated to mental health awareness, which takes place in May but is constantly discussed and shared. Mental health should also be taken seriously in the Philippines, rather than being dismissed and mocked. REFERENCES Rivas, R. (2021, March 17). Suicide cases rise in PH as pandemic drags on. Rappler. Rivera, Ana Kriselda & Antonio, Carl. (2017). Mental Health Stigma Among Filipinos: Time For A Paradigm Shift. Tanaka, C., Tuliao, M. T. R., Tanaka, E., Yamashita, T., & Matsuo, H. (2018). A qualitative study on the stigma experienced by people with mental health problems and epilepsy in the philippines. BMC Psychiatry, 18(1). Tugade, R. (2017, April 25). We need to talk about mental illness in the Philippines.CNN Philippines.

  • "Social Media Detox to Protect our Mental Health."

    It is undeniable that the COVID-19 Pandemic has a significant effect on our lives and massive changes in our daily routines. Our new normal consists of online classes lack physical contact, and many chances to use social media to ease our boredom. However, a study by Hunt et al. (2018) stated that there is an association between the use of social media and poor outcomes on physical and mental well-being, which is why a social media detox might be what you need to take care of your mental health. So why do we need to take a break from using social media? A study by Pantic et al. (2012) shows that too much use of social media correlates with increased depression and a negative impact on self-esteem. This is because we often compare ourselves and envy things that we see on social media, such as the freedom to walk around without masks or face shields or people who can travel and take vacations. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for us to see toxic behaviors on social media, such as trolls and fake news, which is why it is also vital for us to get the news from reputable sources to avoid unnecessary anxiety and panic. Lastly, our mental health is not the only aspect that social media is affecting, as it affects our physical health too. A study by Nasirudeen et al. (2017) found that heavy usage of social media could negatively affect sleep quality as it can cause vision problems and headaches. Finally, we must look after our mental health, especially now that we spend most of our time isolated at home. Detoxing from social media can be difficult at first. However, we should make mental health a higher priority in order to avoid unneeded tension, anxiety, and panic and to maintain a healthier mental state. REFERENCES Hunt, Melissa & Young, Jordyn & Marx, Rachel & Lipson, Courtney. (2018). No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. 37. 751-768. 10.1521/jscp.2018.37.10.751. Pantic, I., Damjanovic, A., Todorovic, J., Topalovic, D., Bojovic-Jovic, D., Ristic, S., & Pantic, S. (2012). Association between online social networking and depression in high school students: behavioral physiology viewpoint. Psychiatria Danubina, 24(1), 90–93. Nasirudeen, A. M. A., Lee Chin Adeline, L., Wat Neo Josephine, K., Lay Seng, L., & Wenjie, L. (2017). Impact of social media usage on daytime sleepiness: A study in a sample of tertiary students in Singapore. DIGITAL HEALTH.

  • "Addressing Toxic Positivity: What it entails to be Human Amidst Pandemic."

    Filipinos are fun and happy people who always keep a smiling face in all their victories and defeats. We are known for our resiliency that despite the circumstances and challenges, we see a positive attitude as if it was an inherent trait that all Filipinos must own. Now that people are adjusting to their new normal as a result of the year-long pandemic, optimism is growing as new hurdles are overcome each day by a diverse group of people with unique experiences to tell. While it is admirable to fall and rise with a smile, we must consider how this attitude can become a maladaptive practice of avoiding genuine human feelings. Having a positive outlook and bright attitude in life is a good practice because an individual’s perspective shifts to the good or beneficial outcome in any situation. It teaches one to appreciate the good things and to look for silver linings in bad times. Positive thinking has been found to offer a number of health advantages. Positive thinking, according to research, helps people deal with stress better and build effective coping mechanisms. People also live longer and are less likely to suffer from depression. There is a rise in physical well-being and a decrease in the chance of dying from the cardiac disease (Cherry, 2019). People are becoming sick, losing jobs, and feeling separated from the rest of the world, therefore it's more important than ever to seek positivity. Several articles have been published on the internet to offer tips, routines, and practices for keeping optimistic during the pandemic. On the surface, maintaining a happy attitude is a good shield to protect yourself from what is going on outside your home. However, we must keep in mind that the shield's effectiveness diminishes over time, especially while fighting large and frightening opponents. We aren't always able to hide. You'll have to draw the sword and confront the opponent one day—how that's we learn and progress. This also applies to the issues we're dealing with. As humans, we are doomed to experience difficulties after problems; it is now up to us to figure out how to deal with them. We slip into the deep trap known as "Toxic Positivity" if we consistently follow the "positive vibes exclusively" approach. You may have come across the term toxic positivity at some point in your life because it exists and is used by individuals without them even realizing it. Toxic positivity is characterized by a strong desire for people to think positively. It is the assumption that only positive thinking can solve problems, thus people are forced to shun negative thinking as if it were an illness. It necessitates a high level of positivism despite the person's difficult and terrible circumstances (Villines, 2021). The toxic optimism culture is dangerous since it silences one's feelings. It denies a person the right to be human, to feel free to express uncomfortable and negative emotions. Phrases like "look on the bright side," "everything occurs for a reason," and "happiness is a choice" are used to silence individuals and dismiss their misery (Cherry, 2021). Many people who are the breadwinners of the family were laid off during the pandemic. Should they just keep an optimistic attitude? There would be no food on the table if they did. Many people today are susceptible to poisonous positivity. Social media posts discussed how to take advantage of the situation, such as the quarantine, online learning, and social isolation. People offered “positive vibes” as a form of comfort to others who had experienced all types of losses and sadness (Wirth, 2020). As humans, we can’t control how we feel. We are not a lightbulb; we can’t switch on and off our feelings. We should always be reminded of this certain phrase we often hear— “It’s okay not to be okay”. To address our emotions properly, we must first acknowledge them by trying not to avoid or ignore them. Also, don’t bottle up your feelings. Don’t wait for your feelings to explode when you can gently let them out one by one. It is essential to express your needs to find balance in your emotions. Furthermore, practice unconditional self-love. When you give yourself some love, you are not too hard on yourself. You allow yourself to experience emotions without having to question or judge what you feel. This will help you separate your negative emotions from your self-worth. Lastly, allow yourself to feel different kinds of emotions at once. Remember that emotions don’t have to be logical to make sense to you. You are allowed to be happy and be sad at the same time. Gratitude and pain could coexist so be honest with your emotions (Su, 2020). When we allow ourselves to feel emotions, we are pulled into the present moment. Right now, we are experiencing a crisis. By feeling our emotions and acknowledging our fear and anxiety toward the virus, we are motivated to practice social distancing and wear our masks (Scully, 2020). To be human means to be authentic, genuine, and be connected in our emotions, and sometimes they’re not beautiful. Sometimes it is painfully beautiful or painfully ugly but feel it anyway. Sometimes, there is no bright side, yet. Not everything has a reason, they just happen as they need to. Happiness is sometimes a privilege not everyone can have immediately. Feel it anyway. Often, there is comfort in staying in uncomfortable places. References: Cherry, L. (2019). What Is Behind the Psychology of Positive Thinking? Verywell Mind. Cherry, K. (2021). Why Toxic Positivity Can Be So Harmful. Verywell Mind. Scully, S. M. (2020). ‘Toxic Positivity’ Is Real — and It’s a Big Problem During the Pandemic. Healthline. Su, E. (2020). 4 Ways to Avoid Toxic Positivity. Talkspace. Villines, Z. (2021). What to know about toxic positivity. Medical News Today. Wirth, J. (2020). Opinion | COVID-19 brings risk of toxic positivity. The Daily Orange.

  • "Mental Health in the Philippines"

    Mental health is a controversial subject that frequently separates perception. Many people claim that mental health is not as important as any other issues, for instance, economic conflicts, political issues, etc., and state that mental health is just all in your head and you should learn how to control it on your own. In the Philippines, mental health is given less significance, regardless of the increasing rate of children and adolescents being affected by it. Lally et al. (2019) stated that the mental health services in the Philippines have remained inconsistent, especially when conveying information to others. The currently implemented act on Mental health provides the opportunity for providing coherent and holistic mental health services and that being said, several problems arise in delivering efficient and cost-effective mental healthcare, only 3-5% of the total budget is spent on mental health problems and 70% are spent in the hospital care. They have mentioned that in 2005, 10 075 participants answered the World Health Survey in the Philippines and that 0.4% of the participants were diagnosed with schizophrenia and 14.5% were diagnosed with depression and only 32.3% of the diagnosed schizophrenia were being treated, and 14% with depression. Lastly, since the Philippines lack mental health workers, professionals, and doctors and has weak community mental health services, they have suggested that public revenues are frantically recommended to fix the professional development and recruitment of psychiatrists, nurses, psychologists, social workers, and other interdisciplinary team members, particularly as a large number of skilled professionals insist on continuing to move abroad. Another study by Maravilla & Tan (2019) stated that Filipino beliefs about mental health such as anxiety and depression are non-existent and something that one should be ashamed of having. The qualitative study of Tanaka et. al (2018) mentioned that this stigma of mental health is thought to be the result of cultural attitudes of mental disorders, which are divided into three categories: Familial Problems, which states that the family disowns its members with mental health disorder due to their belief that it can be genetically transferred. Unrealistic Pessimism and Optimism mean that the person with mental health disorders can either suffer from a chronic cognitive disability or are strong enough to overcome any mental distress on their own. Lastly, Oversimplified Chronic Course where people who do not have mental illnesses pertain a severe illness concept to someone who is unwell and anticipate a complete recovery in the brief period and because of these, the mental health in the Philippines are given less importance by the government and other public sectors, the Philippine government does not also provide economical support for organizations that aims to break the stigma in mental health and help the people with severe mental health disorder the treatment that they deserve. Maravilla & Tan (2021) also states that mental health issues have become the third most common disorder/ disability in the Philippines, i.e. 6 million Filipinos are suffering from depression and anxiety, making the Philippines the third-highest rate of mental health in the Western Pacific. It was also stated in the study of Hakulinen et al. (2020) that people with a serious mental disorder had substantially lower levels of productivity before, and especially after, their disorder's diagnosis. Filipinos are usually displeased, not only for economic strife (i.e. unemployment, low income, etc.) but more because of pressure and expectations from family and society. Lastly, they have mentioned that the Philippine Mental Health Act is really nothing more than a "deceptive ordinance". Nonetheless, they believed that there is still hope that the mental health issues in the Philippines will be recognized as a significant and essential need to improve the quality of life and the economic system. Due to the lack of support and the stigma in mental health, Filipinos who are affected by a severe mental health illness prefer not to seek help from a professional and would rather ask help from close friends or family. In the study of Martinez et al. (2020) Filipinos became reluctant in seeking mental health treatment, primarily because of the expense that underlies the treatment and assumes that there are other significant matters that they need to focus on. Another reason for not seeking treatment is because of the social stigma that comes from every mental health disorder and also because of fear of losing face, a perception of disgrace, and compliance to Asian values of complying with social rules in which mental illness is viewed as unacceptable. They also stated that Filipinos only seek professional help when the illness is too severe for a family or close friend to handle and have suggested that Filipinos should also give significance to their well-being and should know that seeking mental health treatment can have a better impact and quality of life. Seeking mental health treatment does not imply weakness but rather a courage, because of how someone is strong enough to acknowledge that they are not okay and that they need help to become better. Resources: Estrada, C. A., Usami, M., Satake, N., Gregorio, E., Leynes, C., Balderrama, N., Fernandez De Leon, J., Concepcion, R. A., Tuazon Timbalopez, C., Tsujii, N., Harada, I., Masuya, J., Kihara, H., Kawahara, K., Yoshimura, Y., Hakoshima, Y., & Kobayashi, J. (2020). Current situation and challenges for mental health focused on treatment and care in japan and the philippines - highlights of the training program by the national center for global health and medicine. BMC Proceedings, 14(S11). Hakulinen, C., Elovainio, M., Arffman, M., Lumme, S., Pirkola, S., Keskimaki, I., et al. (2019). Mental disorders and long-term labor market outcomes: a nationwide cohort study of 2 055 720 individuals. Acta Psychiatr. Scand. 140, 371–381. doi: 10.1111/acps.13067 Lally, J., Tully, J., & Samaniego, R. (2019). Mental health services in the Philippines. BJPsych International, 16(03), 62–64. Maravilla, N. M. A. T., & Tan, M. J. T. (2021). Philippine mental health act: Just an act? A call to look into the bi-directionality of mental health and economy. Frontiers in Psychology, 12. Martinez, A. B., Co, M., Lau, J., & Brown, J. S. L. (2020). Filipino help-seeking for mental health problems and associated barriers and facilitators: a systematic review. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 55(11), 1397–1413. Tanaka, C., Tuliao, M., Tanaka, E., Yamashita, T., and Matsuo, H. (2018). A qualitative study on the stigma experienced by people with mental health problems and epilepsy in the Philippines. BMC Psychiatry 18:325. doi: 10.1186/s12888-018-1902-9 Zartaloudi, A., & Madianos, M. (2021). Stigma is related to asking for help from a mental health professional. JHeS (Journal of Health Studies), 5(1).

  • Myth or Fact: Does Listening to Music Really Help with Studying and for Your Mental Health?

    It is fairly common for college students to listen to the music of their choice while studying. Another factor is that, due to the pandemic, online classes are being held, where any digital information is easily accessible by anyone. With that, students have quick access to YouTube, Spotify, and plenty of other music streaming platforms while studying. If you're feeling a bit rusty, here are some things you should know so you'll even be productive while listening to music. Music helps with improving your mood and endurance According to Davis (2015), several benefits of music while studying include improvement in memorization where music helps with creating positive moods that obliquely boost memory formation, and it may also improve endurance for long study sessions. If you think that the music you're listening to isn't effective along with your studying, maybe you must consider avoiding music that's too loud or has distracting lyrics. Music may also relieve symptoms of depression and reduce stress. When you’re feeling down, music can pick you up, which is very similar to an exercise (Lerman, 2020). Adverse effects of attentiveness to music while studying Despite the advantages of paying attention to music while studying, there are drawbacks that may be encountered. One of which is that when a student is attentive to music while doing written work, they have a tendency to be easily distracted with the lyrics making it hard for them to focus on writing, and successively, they become inefficient with their tasks (Davis, 2015). A study by Briggs (2014), stated that participants were tested under several listening conditions: some participants had to be attentive to the song of their liking, some had to listen to songs they dislike, some had to listen to a voice repeating the word, “three”, and some had to bear a voice that randomly iterates single-digit numbers. The study has found that being attentive to music whether or not they like the song, could impair cognitive abilities when studying and that they call this phenomenon the “Irrelevant Sound Effect” or the ISE. Conclusion If you’re a hard-working student who wants to concentrate on improving your academic performance, maybe being attentive to music may well be effective for you. Although, given the said setbacks of being attentive to music while studying, it'll still come all the way down to your own study style, and preference. References: Briggs, S. (2014, October 19). Why You Shouldn't Listen to Music While Studying. Davis, N. (2015, July 21). Is it Good to Listen to Music While Studying? Lerman, M. (2020, December 31). 9 Health Benefits of Music.

  • God, are you listening to my prayers? Religion: A Nutrition For Mental Health

    Filipinos are known to be extremely devoted to religion and their spiritual beliefs. And because of the Covid-19 Pandemic, and thanks to technological advances, Filipinos are given an option to attend a Sunday mass through online means. Many other people disagree with the existence of God, but what is so interesting about those who are firm believers of God? And do religiously devoted people have better mental stability than those who do not? Religious people and their Mental Health Stability Several studies have been conducted to know whether or not religion helps with mental health stability. A number of studies have found that religiously devoted people show fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety and that religion has become their way of coping with daily life stress (Rettner, 2015). According to the study of Newberg (2010), several meditation practices that include repetitive phrases such as prayers, create brain activities that are involved in emotional responses such as the frontal lobe, and the prefrontal cortex, and thus help with their mental health stability. Non-religiously devout people and their Mental Health Stability Religion can be a means of releasing stress for some people, but there are also others who do not believe in the existence of God and extremely hate being part of a ritual or religious practice. According to Louca (2021), those who have a perception of God as Punitive, punishing, abandoning us, threatening, or unreliable, show a higher tendency of developing depression, and poorer quality of life. On the other hand, those who have the opposite perception of God, show positive outcomes such as better mental health stability, and better quality of life. Conclusion It is intriguing to know that those who are religiously devout people have better Mental Health Stability than those who do not practice religion at all. Although the topic is debatable, it is better to consider that attending Sunday masses, or believing in God, comes down to personal willingness and preference. References: Rettner, R. (2015, September 24). God Help Us? How Religion is Good (And Bad) For Mental Health. Louca, E. (2021, January 6). Effects of Religion and Faith on Mental Health.

  • Violence and Aggression during COVID-19

    Violence within homes has always been an alarming phenomenon in our society. The Domestic Violence Statistics (2021) report that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the United States have experienced Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) during their lifetime, ‘violence’ here referring to physical, psychological, and/or sexual forms[1]. It was also found that 30 to 60% of IPV offenders abused children in their households. 20% of recorded IPV cases were witnessed by children. The numbers have only worsened since the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent local lockdowns. Growth in the number of calls to domestic violence helplines has been observed in China and Spain, with almost a 20% noted increase for the latter during the first couple of weeks into lockdown (Taub, 2020)[2]. Why Aggress? A study conducted by Shoss, Jundt, Kobler, and Reynolds (2015) found that employees partook in counterproductive work behaviors (CWB) — such as theft, production manipulation, and abuse — at work, as a coping strategy[3]. In an effort to seek out compensatory control, employee CWB increased as the employee’s perceived control over their workplace situations decreased. Though this paper primarily tackled the human condition within the confines of employment, there is something to be gleaned from this in understanding social interactions within the COVID-19 context. It is important to note, at this point, that many other causes and risk factors beyond aggression are involved when we tackle something as complex as domestic and intimate partner violence. In fact, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (n.d.) have identified four broad risk categories involved with IPV, these being individual, relationship, community, and societal factors[4]. Household violence demands more attention and understanding than a simple attribution to aggression. However, for the sake of brevity, published research and studies regarding aggression and how it may relate to the ongoing pandemic will be the topic of focus for this piece. Aggression and Stringency Killgore, Cloonan, Taylor, Anlap, and Dailey (2021) linked increased general aggression with experiences of lockdowns. Respondents who were on lockdown reported feeling and exhibiting higher levels of physical aggression, verbal aggression, anger, and hostility compared to those who experienced less or no restrictions[5]. This is supported by Abreu et al. (2021), who found that household aggression and depression increased following stricter preventive countermeasures in Germany[6]. Gender differences were noted between the severity of aggressive and depressive tendencies as seen in men and women, and mostly only manifested during periods of higher stringency: during the hard lockdown, symptoms of depression were more prevalent and increased more exponentially in women than in men, while aggressive behaviors in men were more commonly or more intensely observed than in women. Surprisingly, the opposite regarding gender differences and depression was found for couples with children — while depression still increased with stringency, gender differences became less pronounced. This implied that men who lived with children took on levels of depression that were similar to the pattern observed in women. Aggression and Fear Another study by Ye et al. (2021) proposed that fear contributed to pandemic-related feelings of aggression, as mediated by moral disengagement[7]. As people become more afraid of COVID-19 implications, moral disengagement is activated in order to protect and defend them against emotional threats. This may then lead, not to the aggressive behaviors per se, but to the leniency of the individual toward their own aggressive behaviors. Due to moral disengagement, an individual might allow harmful behaviors they would have otherwise been able to restrain or stop by themselves. Interestingly, following the hypothesis that aggression was being utilized as a maladaptive coping strategy, family cohesion was thought to be a protective factor against aggression, as it provided a healthier and more supportive method of stress management. What Can We Do? They say prevention is better than cure, and the same applies here. Having identified various risk factors involved with household and partner violence, certain measures may be taken to assess what applies to us, and to guard against those risks that are within our level of control. On the opposite end, we may promote and encourage what protective factors against violence we have in life, such as better education regarding relationships, family cohesion, social support, etc. In addition, as no one is really born already an abuser, we must learn to cultivate in ourselves a sense of or mechanism for awareness regarding our actions and to actively choose healthy alternatives to whatever potentially destructive or maladaptive behaviors we have. The same measures can be applied to others, as well, for one, by prioritizing education on violence and recreational/positive programs for both adults and the youth. Of course, prevention can only help so much if abuse is already a very present reality in our world. In that case, there are still steps an individual may take to help against it, the most vital, perhaps, being the normalization of speaking out about abuse experiences, and reinforcing the importance of it. This may help strengthen victims to be more open about their experiences, to finally get the psychological, medical, and legal help they deserve. Other actions that may be considered include the establishment of a neighborhood watch or check-in system among friends, as it may be a good way to let others know you are concerned about them and are willing to provide support should someone be in need of it. Conversely, one must also understand that there are people out there who are willing to help them, however, isolating or hopeless their situations might be. In the case of evidential abuse, it would be prudent to collect proof as needed, to ensure a better legal outcome should it come to that. Perhaps the strongest help that may be given to anyone in such a situation, however, lies in the hands of the professionals. As normal individuals, the best we can do for this cause is to encourage the presence and participation of these professionals in the lives of potential and actual victims, and vice versa. This can be done by urging government officials to improve existing services and by seeking out new solutions to possible problems and pitfalls potential and actual victims of violence face. For one, we may demand greater education among police and emergency respondents regarding how to best handle situations of domestic violence, or lobby for more accessible health and support resources, such as therapy services or temporary housing. References Domestic Violence Statistics. (2021, June 15). The Hotline. Taub, A. (2020, April 14). How Domestic Abuse Has Risen Worldwide Since Coronavirus. The New York Times. Shoss, M. K., Jundt, D. K., Kobler, A., & Reynolds, C. (2015). Doing Bad to Feel Better? An Investigation of Within- and Between-Person Perceptions of Counterproductive Work Behavior as a Coping Tactic. Journal of Business Ethics, 137(3), 571–587. Risk and Protective Factors|Intimate Partner Violence|Violence Prevention|Injury Center|CDC. (n.d.). Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved August 17, 2021, from Killgore, W. D., Cloonan, S. A., Taylor, E. C., Anlap, I., & Dailey, N. S. (2021). Increasing aggression during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Journal of Affective Disorders Reports, 5, 100163. Abreu, L., Koebach, A., Díaz, O., Carleial, S., Hoeffler, A., Stojetz, W., Freudenreich, H., Justino, P., & Brück, T. (2021). Life With Corona: Increased Gender Differences in Aggression and Depression Symptoms Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic Burden in Germany. Frontiers in Psychology, 12. Ye, B., Zeng, Y., Im, H., Liu, M., Wang, X., & Yang, Q. (2021). The Relationship Between Fear of COVID-19 and Online Aggressive Behavior: A Moderated Mediation Model. Frontiers in Psychology, 12.

  • "A Secret Disease: The COVID-19 Infodemic."

    It’s nowhere bizarre to consider that wherever organisms are, diseases invariably will follow. Defined by Merriam Webster[1] as “a condition of the living animal or plant body [...] that impairs normal functioning”, diseases are an almost expected, natural facet of existence. You can most definitely say they’ve been here on Earth for as long as life has. Diseases can be classified into two general categories: non-infectious and infectious. Non-infectious diseases would most typically be associated with genetic disorders and dysfunctions, and at times may be attributed to social determinants like one’s lifestyle and environment. Infectious diseases[2], however, would involve concepts like bacterias, parasites, and — the one that’s taken our entire world by storm — viruses. Then and Now The earliest recorded incidence of a pandemic was in 430 B.C. in Athens, during the Peloponnesian War[3]. The plague, which featured symptoms including but not limited to diarrhea, high fever, bradycardia, and hemorrhaging, lasted some five years, killing a quarter of the city’s population in total[4]. Early into the outbreak, many Athenians actually pointed the cause of their condition to the water in their wells, which they hypothesized were poisoned by the Spartans they were then warring against. It was only until the physicians, who were constantly exposed to and treating the ailing masses, started displaying symptoms as well, that they considered contagion as a more likely suspect. It might be a comfort to most of us, in 2021, to know that we’ve advanced significantly since then, both in terms of medicine and technology. We are fully capable of engineering our own vaccines, have a better understanding of how pathogens are transmitted, are better equipped at devising preventive techniques against infection, and generally benefit from the instantaneous updating and informing that social media and digital interactions can afford us. However, these advantages may often come with their fair share of entailments. On Mental Health Mental health consequences is one such entailment. In a study conducted by Abbas, Wang, Su, and Ziapour (2021)[5], it was found that people mainly used social media during the COVID-19 pandemic to seek out informational and emotional support. However, in a counterproductive twist, another research found that 64% of participants reported feeling generally distressed by the content they saw on social media regarding COVID-19 (Ahmad & Murad, 2020)[6]. This distress manifested either psychologically, physically or both. Ranked as the most upsetting type of content was fake news about COVID-19 (26.6%). This is a finding that becomes especially interesting when paired with a study conducted by Kouzy et al. (2020)[7], which found that as of February 27, 2021, 24.8% of all posts pertaining to COVID-19 on the social media platform Twitter included misinformation, and 17.4% included unverified information. The problem with fake news is much larger than you might think. It has actually become so prevalent and far-reaching that many people have started referring to the phenomenon as an infodemic. A portmanteau of ‘information and ‘epidemic’, it has been defined by the World Health Organization (2020) as excessive information propagated in both digital and physical environments which feature false or misleading information[8]. The COVID-19 Infodemic While the slight deterioration of mental health is an almost expected outcome at this time due to the inherent negative value of experiencing a worldwide health crisis, there is still so much that infodemics can affect in regards to it. For one, media that was merely biased and misleading led to more pronounced psychological distress; potential human and economical consequences such as investing heavily in fake health products were also more likely to happen (Su et al., 2021)[9]. Meanwhile, media coverage that was more severely false and dishonest cultivated undesirable attitudes and mindsets in people, such as that of public distrust. This is a problem by itself; however, the difficulty of this increases tenfold when taking into consideration the mechanism by which anxiety is buffered during the COVID-19 lockdown. According to Marzouki, Aldossari, and Veltri (2021)[10], people tend to gravitate toward a consensus about a negative event when exposed to the said event — in our case, the pandemic. From this consensus, we draw certain expectations about the event, which may lead to feelings of distress. A shared cognitive appraisal of the situation then follows, as evidenced by the presence of coping mechanisms, which help to alleviate distress felt by the group. This, like any other mechanism of behavior, seems normal enough until one considers how it might play out in a company of misinformed individuals. As false information is integrated early on into their shared appraisal of COVID-19, we are left with an affiliation of people that are, though socially supported and less psychologically distressed, reinforcing to each other all the wrong ideas regarding the ongoing crisis. This is worsened by the possibility that unsuspecting or uninformed individuals outside this group might be lured into their conceptions, as people often lend credibility to any ideal with significant enough backing. What Can We Do? Given the information we’ve discussed so far, the main contribution we can make as active social media agents is to do our part to stop the COVID-19 infodemic. Small, additional actions we can adopt that would greatly help in this goal would be to ensure we’re getting our information from verified sources. Moreover, as some 12.6% of content shared by verified sources on social media were still found to be misinformation (Kouzy et al., 2020), it might also be beneficial that we cross-check information from other legitimate references and share on our own platforms only what has been proven and evidenced to be fact. By doing so, we propagate in social media only what needs to be said — nothing more and nothing false that could potentially exacerbate the mental health struggles people would naturally be going through right now. In the role of receiver, it might also do some good to take breaks from social media every once in a while. Again, while the technology is useful enough in updating us about how the virus, the pandemic, and the world is currently faring, it’s only so helpful up to a certain point. Excessive exposure to social media has been linked to poorer mental health, with negative affect identified as the mediating factor (Zhao & Zhou, 2020)[11]. Additionally, information overload was found to be a predictor of reduced wellbeing during isolation (Fan & Smith, 2021)[12]. A Final Word Looking for support during the pandemic, either emotional or informational, is standard behavior where any interaction is concerned — not just in social media. After all, the entire experience might be upsetting enough that we as a collective feel encouraged to take matters into our own hands and do the small things we can to improve our standard of living. However, it’s important to realize that our words hold a weight we might not even immediately recognize. In fact, everything we put out there for people to see — our beliefs, our feelings, our considered truths — will affect how the rest of the world will decide to continue on from this point. Your voice has great power, and as we’re constantly reminded, it comes with great responsibility. References Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Disease. In dictionary. Retrieved August 16, 2021, from Infectious diseases - Symptoms and causes. (2021, April 7). Mayo Clinic. Horgan, J. (2021, August 15). The Plague at Athens, 430–427 BCE. World History Encyclopedia. Littman, R. J. (2009). The Plague of Athens: Epidemiology and Paleopathology. Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine: A Journal of Translational and Personalized Medicine, 76(5), 456–467. Abbas, J., Wang, D., Su, Z., & Ziapour, A. (2021). The Role of Social Media in the Advent of COVID-19 Pandemic: Crisis Management, Mental Health Challenges and Implications. Risk Management and Healthcare Policy, Volume 14, 1917–1932. Ahmad, A. R., & Murad, H. R. (2020). The Impact of Social Media on Panic During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Iraqi Kurdistan: Online Questionnaire Study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 22(5), e19556. Kouzy, R., Abi Jaoude, J., Kraitem, A., El Alam, M. B., Karam, B., Adib, E., Zarka, J., Traboulsi, C., Akl, E. W., & Baddour, K. (2020). Coronavirus Goes Viral: Quantifying the COVID-19 Misinformation Epidemic on Twitter. Cureus, 12(3), e7255. Infodemic. (2020, December 22). World Health Organization. Su, Z., McDonnell, D., Wen, J., Kozak, M., Abbas, J., ŠEgalo, S., Li, X., Ahmad, J., Cheshmehzangi, A., Cai, Y., Yang, L., & Xiang, Y. T. (2021). Mental health consequences of COVID-19 media coverage: the need for effective crisis communication practices. Globalization and Health, 17(1). Marzouki, Y., Aldossari, F. S., & Veltri, G. A. (2021). Understanding the buffering effect of social media use on anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 8(1). Zhao, N., & Zhou, G. (2020). Social Media Use and Mental Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Moderator Role of Disaster Stressor and Mediator Role of Negative Affect. Applied psychology. Health and well-being, 12(4), 1019–1038. Fan, J., & Smith, A. P. (2021). Information Overload, Wellbeing and COVID-19: A Survey in China. Behavioral Sciences, 11(5), 62.

  • “Vulnerability is NOT Equal to Weakness.”

    All of us have vulnerability no matter how hard we try to avoid it. We are born vulnerable, and we remain so throughout our childhood. Our attachment to vulnerability is something we hold dear as children but abandon as adults. We naturally want to be in control of ourselves once we've grown out of the childhood stage, and we become conditioned to hide our feelings from time to time. We learn to suppress our emotions because when we become vulnerable, a part of our self-control begins to vanish, and this is something that most of us are afraid of. We are concerned that expressing certain feelings may lead to judgment and the assumption that we are unable to control our emotions. As a result, we try to keep our grief, anxiety, frustration, and other negative emotions hidden (Raypole, 2020). “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage,” Brené Brown, a research professor, and author, supports this in her book Rising Strong. But little did we know that being vulnerable may be one of life's greatest triumphs. Consider it a jumbled crossword puzzle on the floor. Some may argue that the puzzle is unfinished because the pieces are littered across the floor. However, by putting them together, you can complete the picture. This should be the central theme of our lives. Instead of disowning our broken bits and refusing to try to put them back together, we should own them and work to put them back together. Our brain's principal purpose is to keep us safe. Our mind hates vulnerability because of the possibility of being hurt. (Fahkry, 2018). Ripping down all the emotional barriers you've built up over the years, and being open about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses are terrifying. Nevertheless, it is preferable to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. Therefore, being vulnerable is the bravest and compassionate thing we can do in life. It reintroduces love, hope, and faith into your life, as well as to other people. (Schawbel, 2013). Moreover, each of us has different pain thresholds. If left unchecked, it will become inflamed and take control of our intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships. Therefore, if we want to live a good life, we must accept our vulnerability. Even the smallest act of lowering our guard is a commitment to our growth. Life may be quite overwhelming at times, and we may feel as if we can't take it anymore, but remember that it's okay not to be okay. We're all human, and we're supposed to feel things. You are never wrong to express your feelings, and ever let anyone make you feel weak and worthless for being vulnerable because no one can judge your feelings but you. References: Fahkry, T. (2018). How To Embrace Vulnerability As Your Greatest Strength. Medium. Retrieved from 80ba52 Napior, T. (2020). Here is Why It’s Okay to Cry. Medium. Retrieved from Raypole, C. (2020). It’s Tempting to Mask Your Emotions, but It Won’t Do You (Or Anyone Else) Any Favors. Healthline. Retrieved from Schawbel, D. (2013). Brene Brown: How Vulnerability Can Make Our Lives Better. Forbes. Retrieved from e-our-lives-better/?sh=66e3c53936c7

  • Are All Introverts Enjoying Quarantine?

    According to the American Psychological Association, introverts lean toward their internal private world rather than toward the outer world of people and things. They are the ones who enjoy spending time on their own or with very few people rather than being with a large crowd. Contrary to extroverts who experience a boost in mood after social interactions, introverts tend to get tired of it (Edward-Elmhurst Health, 2020; Cherry, 2021). Now that there’s a pandemic, classes are suspended, work is done at home, meetings are done virtually, and people are compelled to stay at home. Gyms, restaurants, bars, malls, and cinemas are either closed or can only accommodate a few people. Therefore, it’s easy to assume that introverts are having the time of their lives during the pandemic where there is social isolation. Theories about the Extroversion-introversion traits have been around in psychological literature for over 100 years. Extroversion-introversion is an established personality dimension that is a part of the Five-Factor Model of personality traits. The higher pole of this dimension describes extroverted personality traits that include sociability, assertiveness, and cheerfulness while the lower pole includes introverted qualities of being quiet and reserved (Matthews, 2019). It is important to understand that this dimension is a spectrum and personality traits are more complex for introverts or extroverts to be purely one or the other. Personality traits play an important role in determining how well we will cope with difficult situations such as quarantine and self-isolation. However, there are many other factors that contribute to this such as several demographic factors, employment status, physical health, and mental health. Are Introverts Enjoying Quarantine? For some introverts, the answer may be yes, but the longer we live in quarantine, the more research studies find otherwise. The pandemic ensues a huge adjustment for everyone, and introverts are more associated with adjustment problems (Robinson et al., 2010; Davidson et al., 2015). Even if introverts tend to enjoy spending their time on their own, they have their families living with them in their homes. For years, members of the family are used to spending most of their day at work or in school. Now, they’re staying at home and dealing with each other every day. For introverts who are not used to full-time interaction, staying at home with others places a burden on them as they can’t actually have time alone (Olheiser, 2020). Additionally, trying to balance personal life, work, and raising children are causing stress to parents. A study conducted during the pandemic also found that living with others was associated with experiencing more cognitive impairments and anxiety as compared to living alone. In the same study, results showed that introversion predicted more severe loneliness, anxiety, and depression (Wei, 2020). Given that introverts tend to get tired from social gatherings, having the need to meet people online may actually be worse for them. Online meetings are found to be more exhausting than meeting face-to-face. In the absence of several non-verbal cues, online calls require more intense focus and sustained eye contact (Baumann & Sander, 2020). While silence is natural and oftentimes comfortable when people are together, silence during online meetings tends to be more awkward and makes people anxious. As a result, people have to exert more effort to engage with each other and appear more interested. It is also important to understand that introverts do not want zero socialization and they also need some social interaction (Tuovinen et al., 2020). For extroverts who tend to be more flexible and creative when it comes to socializing, this may be easier. However, introverts tend to be less flexible when it comes to thinking of ways to connect with people, causing them to be even more isolated. Excessive isolation is an unhealthy behavior that may lead to loneliness. Loneliness can make people more vulnerable to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, personality disorders, and addiction (Mushtaq et al., 2014). The idea that introverts are coping better compared to extroverts can actually be very dangerous. Not only would this cause people to neglect those who they know are introverts, but this also adds pressure to the introverts themselves to feel okay during this pandemic. Like extroverts, introverts need other people too and to have a strong support system during this difficult time. It is also important for introverts to become self-aware if they are isolating to give themselves time to relax and reenergize or if they are doing it out of depression or anxiety. If they are doing it because of the latter, then it may be good for them to seek help from professionals to protect their mental health. References: Baumann, S. & Sander, E. (2020). 5 Reasons Why Zoom Meetings Are So Exhausting. Retrieved from,sustained%20eye%20contact%20is%20exhausting. Cherry, K. (2021). 5 Personality Traits of Extroverts. Retrieved from Davidson, B., Gillies, R. A., and Pelletier, A. L. (2015). Introversion and medical student education: challenges for both students and educators. Teach. Learn. Med. 27, 99–104. doi: 10.1080/10401334.2014.979183 Edward-Elmhurst Health. (2020). How introverts and extroverts are handling the pandemic. Retrieved from Matthews, G. (2019). Extraversion-Introversion. Reference Module in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Psychology. doi:10.1016/b978-0-12-809324-5.21765-3 Mushtaq, R., Shoib, S., Shah, T., & Mushtaq, S. (2014). Relationship between loneliness, psychiatric disorders, and physical health? A review on the psychological aspects of loneliness. Journal of clinical and diagnostic research: JCDR, 8(9), WE01–WE4. Robinson, O. C., Demetre, J. D., and Corney, R. (2010). Personality and retirement: exploring the links between the big five personality traits, reasons for retirement, and the experience of being retired. Pers. Indiv. Differ. 48, 792–797. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2010.01.014 Spinelli, M., Lionetti, F., Pastore, M., & Fasolo, M. (2020). Parents’ Stress and Children’s Psychological Problems in Families Facing the COVID-19 Outbreak in Italy. Frontiers in Psychology, 11.

  • "You Don’t Have To Be Productive During The Pandemic."

    It was a normal day. I was sitting with my friends in our usual lunch spot, waiting for our next class when the announcement came. The mayor has declared a one-week suspension of classes due to the rise of COVID-19 cases. There were only 20 cases in the country that day, but I haven’t been with my friends since. The one-week suspension was extended and at a certain point, I realized it would last a while. I made a to-do list of everything I want to accomplish during the quarantine: books I want to read, series I want to watch, things I want to learn. A year and a few months later, only one item on my list is crossed out. Now we’re working, taking classes, and meeting with people via zoom at our own homes. We don’t spend time commuting anymore nor do we have to rush our food during lunch break. Groceries and other essential items may be delivered directly to your home. The pandemic has given us plenty of time and it’s normal for us to think of how we could be productive during this season. But why have I only crossed out one item from my list? It turns out that being productive amid the pandemic is not as easy as it sounds. We do have a lot of time but there are other factors that contribute to our productivity. If you’re feeling less productive these days, here’s what you should know. Mental Health Plays a Huge Role in Your Productivity The isolation and constant threat of the COVID-19 have led to the increase and prevalence of mental health issues. Mental health problems may also affect the energy, concentration, and performance levels of an individual. It affects the way you feel that even mild anxiety or depression can impact your productivity. Racing thoughts are common with people living with anxiety which leads to less time actually doing things since time was spent on your thoughts (Barbash, 2019). Depression, on the other hand, has been associated with impaired productivity as well as reduced work functioning (CDC, 2019). Don’t Feel Guilty, It’s Called Collective Pain You may be living in the comfort of your home with all the resources you need to work or take classes and you may be well-fed or financially stable and yet, still be not okay. Aside from the individual pain that we go through due to the pandemic such as missing our families and friends, losing jobs, or struggling to make ends meet, we may also experience collective pain (Laporte, 2017). The ongoing crisis, the deaths, the struggles of those who lost their jobs, the call for help of those who couldn’t pay for their hospital bills, etc., contribute to the collective pain that you experience. You might feel guilty for going through mental health struggles knowing that these things are happening to other people, but the thing is, someone is always going to have a worse situation than you have and it’s human to be affected by them. You Don’t Have To Be Productive When You’re Living Through a Pandemic Living through a pandemic means having a constant threat to your health, dealing with social isolation, systemic inequalities, and having financial or work uncertainties. Therefore, you cannot expect yourself to function at your peak. Setting an unrealistic expectation of being 100% productive would cause overwhelming pressure, stress, and frustration. Living through a pandemic is enough for itself, there is no need to add the stress of being extra productive. As the social psychologist, Devon Price said in his book Laziness Does Not Exist, “There is no morally corrupt, slothful force inside us, driving us to be unproductive for no reason. It’s not evil to have limitations and to need breaks”. Coping With Less Productivity As you become aware of your mental health, it’s important to cope with lower productivity. Allow yourself to ease your workload and slow down. If your coping mechanisms are socializing, going to the gym, or eating at your favorite restaurant, try to find new coping mechanisms. While it is good to be informed about current events, consider taking a break from the news and social media, especially if it gives rise to your anxiety (Fuller, 2019). The next time that you find yourself being less productive than you think you should be, remember that taking care of yourself is still your top priority, and know that you are not going through this alone. References: Barbash, E. (2019). Worrying: A Waste of Time and Energy. Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Mental Health in the Workplace. Retrieved from Laporte, D. (2017). Are You Feeling Collective Pain? Here’s How to Manage that. Retrieved from Fuller, K. (2019). Social Media Breaks and Why They Are Necessary. Retrieved from

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