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Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh.

How do you handle COVID-19 stress?

Maintaining connections and positivity are among keys to coping and for Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, he’s found comfort in reading the Bible and listening to the music of late sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar.

Deyalsingh yesterday shared how he’s keeping it together amid COVID stress when he responded to a query during the daily media update.

“I’m heartened to know there’s some concern about the Health Minister’s health and everyone’s—I’m really touched,” Deyalsingh said.

“That will give all Health Ministry staff and health workers added impetus to work on everyone’s behalf.”

He said his staff meets at 7.45 am daily.

“It’s a tea meeting, we all wear masks. We conduct meetings, not in a morbid fashion but in serious manner that gives all an opportunity to relax and report,” he said.

“I also found some solace back in the Bible from which I’d strayed away. Now that I have some time I read it more, online.

“I also go back to my music days: I tune into sitarist Ravi Shankar and his daughter Anushka to hear their music. I’m trying to cope well to be with you here every mile of the way.”

Deyalsingh added he’s also trying to “social distance from my fridge.”

He also addressed queries about the fact people are growing restless amid COVID restrictions and might be tempted to risk infection over continuing to heed warnings.

Mental health specialist Dr Hazel Othello also shared coping mechanisms for workers, the unemployed, those grieving and other people.

“These are difficult times. It may be with us in T&T for a while so we must manage day by day knowing we have to do it for some time,” Othello said.

She said her de-stressing techniques include “…Finding my peace in any storm in my relationship with God. I read the Bible and participate in worship, my church meetings take place via Zoom.”

She said she also loves music and exercising.

“I do what I can to maintain peace of mind and not to become overwhelmed or overly tired..sometimes one has to turn off the phone and get R&R (rest and recreation) to be fit for the next leg,”

Othello also detailed how domestic violence victims might cope. She said an increase in domestic violence was recognised currently as a result of people being in close quarters for prolonged periods. She advised potential victims to follow patterns that relax them and make plans for times for when they’re unsafe.

“Have phone numbers, police or helplines available. Contact authorities who can help. Organise in a way in case you need to leave suddenly, have a bag packed and documents accessible,” she said.

Urging routines to keep occupied, she said lying in bed for prolonged periods may be a sign of disorder and is also a sign of depression. Appetite changes may also signal mood disorder and excessive eating may be a sign of depression.

“Reach out to health care providers if you’re developing mood disorder symptoms,” Othello said.

However, she said she wasn’t aware of any research being done yet on whether more people are seeking mental health help due to the COVID problem. She suspected it will come later as the current period continues.