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Psychologist Michele Carter has offered advice on how citizens can cope with COVID-19 restrictions.

It was soca artiste and songwriter Edghill “MX Prime” Thomas who suggested that we were an impenetrable people in the face of any calamity when he penned, Full Extreme, (Jamming Still), a composition illustrating a happy and resilient people amid any mayhem. But with the sting of the coronavirus pandemic, it has forced this modus operandi to buckle, concluding God might not be a Trini after all.

The jamming has been halted as activities from outdoor birthday meet-ups and weddings to popular Friday night after work limes, vacation trips, cinema nights and the casual bar hopping have hit pause, as this country joins the global community in streamlining measures to mollify transmission of the hurriedly spread contagion.

While the precautions are necessary, it has left some in this “happy nation,” with shrugged shoulders, asking the question: “How do we cope?”

Psychologist and educator Michele Carter suggested, in the first instance, gain understanding.

“People must educate themselves about the Covid-19 virus and grasp an understanding of the consequences of it. And therefore, in understanding the virus, they would understand why the restrictions by the government have become necessary which ultimately is to safeguard their health as well as that of their loved ones,” Carter said.

She added, once people understood the problem, they would be able to accept it, embrace it, endure it and involve themselves in strategies that will help them to ride out this crisis and overcome it.

At the same time, Carter, who spoke to Guardian Media via phone, explained the stiff social effects the coronavirus has forced would cause some sense of frustration and even anger as people are experiencing a sudden loss of freedom.

Additionally, people may also experience boredom she noted, and irritability resulting in lack of sleep or the inability to sleep restfully—all stemming from the inaccessibility to socially interact outside of the home. She said the feeling of disconnection from others can also create a consciousness of isolation and unimportance.

Carter said it was very important to stress, those who were dealing with mental health illnesses may see an increase in symptoms such as depression, hopelessness and uselessness.

She said, “There might also be a tendency for people to increase their dependency on alcohol and other substances to cope or to relieve the stresses that they might be experiencing at this time.”

Regarding families, Carter said, immediate family members are now going to be in very close proximity to each other; spending much more time than they usually do with each other. She said while for the most part, this has positive outcomes, it can also become overwhelming as people are in each other’s spaces and personalities may clash, causing conflicts and quarrels in the home.

“It is important that individuals and families recognise that these feelings they may experience at this time is okay. What is also important is that we understand what we are feeling, why we are having these feelings and seek healthy coping strategies,” Carter advised.

She offered several coping measures; she believes families and individuals should incorporate in their daily lives at this time.

• Be wary of the news you expose yourself to because it can cause greater panic if the information is unfounded and not sourced from relevant and reputable sources and authorities.

• Maintain a positive mind frame and a positive mood. Embrace the situation and use it as a window of introspection, a time to pray and a time to count your blessings.

• Engage in journalling. Use this downtime to write about your experiences. And to plan your long- term and short-term goals.

• Reacquaint yourself with indoor activities such as reading books, engaging in house projects or learning a new hobby via the Internet.

• Use the time to take care of you. Engage in healthy breathing exercises and muscle relaxation techniques, as well as eating properly; your body is often neglected with the demands of daily life.

• Create a family daily schedule or timetable of activities the family can become engaged in during the day or the week. Partaking in activities keeps one occupied and focused and brings meaning to one’s time.

• Work on communication skills. Use this time to learn how to better communicate with each other as a family in a household. Use the time to bond. Create new family traditions. The family is the first social institution.

• Use social media positively. Create groups or chats to share experiences. Utilise YouTube to make your family programmes and to post positive family messages.

• Seek professional help if you are not able to cope.