MCO: Plan home routine, activities for good mental health - Experts

By Nurhafizah Tan

KUALA LUMPUR, March 25 -- Daily activities that are not managed systematically during the nationwide Movement Control Order (MCO) could affect mental health and stress due to sudden routine changes, said Malaysian Psychiatric Association secretary Dr Firdaus Abdul Ghani.

She said this was why it is important to plan daily activities for the whole family suitable with the work-from-home (WFH) situation so that there are no significant changes from the normal pre-MCO routine.

“Practice good self-care and daily routine while working from home. Get ready as usual, work on your usual working hours and have a designated working area,” she told Bernama when contacted today.

Firdaus said the people, parents particularly, should plan daily or weekly activities to carry out at home that could have a positive effect on the mind.

“Parents need to explain to their children the reason they need to stay home, even if we though they don’t have to understand the situation, they also have the access to the media, so it is important to provide an explanation so that the children would not become anxious and worry,” she said.

Firdaus said spiritual activities such as prayer and meditation are also important for internal strength to calm oneself in overcoming anxiety.

“During the MCO period, one could experience common symptoms of non-clinical depression including sleeping difficulty, feelings of sadness, nervousness, worry and anxiety.

Meanwhile, Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) head of counselling unit Dr Fauziah Mohd Saad said it was important for the community to embrace the MCO directive positively and understand their responsibility to comply with it.

“If we think of it negatively, then our mind will become negative.

“Hence, it is best to accept the directive in a positive manner, understand it and set in mind that this is for the safety of oneself, family and the general public, including those working as frontliners at the hospital,” she said.

Fauziah said the community also need to constantly combat negative thoughts which can lead to stress.

“For example, if you have negative thoughts such as boredom, you can challenge that feeling by thinking ‘staying at home is more important to save lives’.

“After that, replace those negative thoughts with activity planning. You now have the time and opportunity to do things you could not do before. Turn this MCO period to a fun time,” she added.

An expert in psychotherapy and counselling (depression and anxiety) Dr Meriam Omar Din advised people to avoid reading fake news that could intensify one's anxiety in this situation.

“Avoid reading information that makes us angry or worry. Negative thoughts can be toxic to those who are already anxious. Stop yourself from reading (or joining) what is on social media (such as Whatsapp groups).

Meriam also suggested that the public use this opportunity to spend time with their family at home while avoiding provocative subjects such as issues relating to politics and others.







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