Coping with uncertainty

Singapore Psychological Society offers pro bono services, or consultation at reduced rates

Singapore Psychological Society's Karyen Chai: help is available. Credit: Karyen Chai

SINGAPORE - When COVID-19 is over and the world does recover from the economic impact, the travel industry is likely going to take a longer time to bounce back.

The uncertainty of the situation adds to the stress and can severely impact our moods. No one can give a certain date of when this would end; no one can even give a rough estimate.

Having to constantly adapt and change is exhausting. Worse still, nobody knows how much longer we would have to constantly do so. The first few days of being asked to stay home may be nice: lying around with no responsibilities and no alarms. After which it may begin to feel unbearable. Are you just feeling a little frustrated, or is it something more?

Singapore Psychological Society communications chair, Ms Karyen Chai, offered some tips on what to look out for:

•    Loss of energy - The reduction of physical activity doesn't make you feel better.

•    Loss of interest in daily activity - You don't find joy in what you used to find enjoyable.

•    Lower tolerance - Being in the service industry, you had dealt with a lot of demands with a smile. Now your temper is short and a small issue can irritate you.

•    Sleep changes - insomnia or oversleeping. This may be hard to spot especially for some in the travel industry because of the irregular sleep patterns. Take note of sleep changes and how tired you feel afterward.

•    Feelings of helplessness - You don't know when this struggle will end. You feel like there is nothing you can do about it.

She advised: "If you are feeling two or more of the above, it may be advisable to talk to a professional. The Singapore Psychological Society has a list of registered psychologists who are offering pro bono services, or at reduced rates. This list is made up of psychologists who are qualified in education and training, and is regulated by the Singapore Psychological Society." For the list, please click here.

Whether we are speaking to a professional, or not quite ready to take the step yet, here are some things to do:

•    Exercise - Replace your usual physical work with some physical activities. Exercise can help with mood and sleep as well.

•    Find a hobby - Find something that makes you excited to get out of bed every day.

•    Be compassionate - It is hard to think for others when we are struggling with our own problems. Remember that everyone is struggling to some extent with the COVID-19 situation. We can all use a little kindness right now.

•    Be present - Before the COVID-19 restrictions, we are rushing along with everyone else. We do what others were doing. With our current limits, we have so much time on our hands to be able to take time to be present. Be present with yourself. Be present with your family. Be present with your thoughts. Be present with the moment.

•    Recognise the locus of control - Understand what is within your control and manage that. And recognise those that are not within your control, and let that go.

•    Strategise and develop - Use this time to strategise and plan for after COVID-19. Use this opportunity to develop yourself so that you may be ready for the next challenge.  

The COVID-19 situation is wrought with uncertainty. The economic impact on the travel industry amplifies the psychological impact on individuals whose livelihoods depends upon it.

Fortunately, these changes are temporary. We may not know when this will be over, but we know that it will be over one day. Until then, we can manage ourselves and prepare for a brighter day.

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