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Actualizado: 29 dic 2020

Managing emotions in times of coronavirus

María Susana Padrón de Grasso

Presidente de la Asociación Venezolana para el síndrome de Down

At the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, the population began to go through a time of uncertainty and doubts that little by little can affect people's mental health; mainly of those who suffer from anxiety or who are in particular situations, children, the elderly and as is the case of people with disabilities.

The course that this disease that is stalking the world population has been taking naturally generates a feeling of uncertainty and unease for all of us because some aspects of this virus are still not clear, consequently leaving many ropes still to be tied. On the one hand we all feel ourselves dancing on a tightrope and on the other we become aware of the reality of all of us sitting on a powder keg. All the provisions can be taken, which does not exclude us from being at risk but from minimizing it. 
Fear and anxiety regarding a disease can be overwhelming and generate strong emotions, and to the extent that we are able to deal with them, they will have a greater or lesser impact on each person.
Each person handles stress in a different way and the way in which they respond to this new circumstance that has undoubtedly changed everyone's life will depend on many factors: their background and aspects that differentiate them from other people, from their experiences and the community in which you live. 
Knowing how to deal with stress will allow us as well as the important people in your life and your community to be strengthened.
In this situation of confinement, it is difficult to really think about how to be support agents for others in more vulnerable conditions such as children, people with disabilities and the elderly.
Consequently, there will be a lot to look for to try to emotionally survive the moment.
Let's start with resilience
Resilience does not mean resignation. In times of crisis like the one we are now living in, resilience is a capacity that can help people to face the changes that are coming in a firm way and anchored in reality. 

Psychologist Rocío Rivero, author of the book ‘The meaning of life is a life with meaning. Resilience ', tells us about it and offers a series of guidelines to develop it in the middle of the health crisis due to the coronavirus.
Life teaches us that nothing is forever, that our dreams do not always come true and that we cannot cling to the past or live longing for the future, so we have to adapt to reality: to today and to the moment. However, due to variables such as previous experiences and their vision of life, each person perceives reality in a different way.
When we are faced with a critical situation like the current one, the first mechanism that is activated in us is coping, that is, the ability we have to assume at the moment a situation that can be destructive.
While coping prepares us to receive the initial shock, resilience equips us to adapt and overcome the critical event and transforms the situation into a strength for the future. Therefore, being resilient will help us avoid certain psychological problems that can arise from an adverse situation. Hence, resilience is a capacity; a matter of attitude and not all human beings develop this aptitude in the same way.
Being resilient, as I mentioned before, does not mean conformism; Resilience starts from a realistic point of view, from the confidence that the blow we received will not destabilize us if we confront it, assume it and use it to improve our lives. In conclusion: adapt to this new reality and "fight" it with determination to succeed. 
This determination will make us emerge stronger and with more capacity in the face of other future events.
Resilience is therefore intelligence, seeking to somehow cope with the current situation in a less traumatic way and continue living, although obviously with concern because we must be realistic - and reality cannot be covered with a finger - and seek to be happy. If we manage to combine all these skills we will be training in resilience.
Resilience is not something that some have and others do not, quite the opposite; It is just that some people are more resilient than others and it is precisely for this reason that I leave here some reflections to try to develop our resilience capacity in the best possible way.

1. Learn to recognize and face your emotions, be gentle with yourself and allow yourself to express them The first thing is to learn to recognize emotions and not run away from problems, but face them and seek solutions, taking the time you need to rest, being aware of what you can demand of yourself and when you should stop. We cannot avoid encountering problems or crisis situations, at least we cannot always do so. Therefore, we must take these situations as challenges that arise in life and that push us to get the best of ourselves: to be stronger, to think and act accordingly. Use every experience you live to grow as a person.

2. Accept changes as normal in life When we are in a difficult situation we feel far from our goals. To get back to them, it is necessary to accept the circumstances that cannot be changed and start working on the aspects that can be changed.

3. Feet on the ground! Achievable goals A goal can be anything you want to do or achieve and is closely related to motivation because it will depend on whether or not we achieve our purpose. Having goals is extremely important because it includes the ability to commit. But possibly, and due to the current situation, all of us have to rethink some of our goals and adapt them to this moment.

4. Always in a positive attitude There are many times that we think about an issue that we cannot solve or we imagine situations in which things will go from bad to worse. When this happens, focus on activities that require a great deal of attention, such as playing chess or reading a book on a subject that you don't have much knowledge about, but that you find interesting. Optimism is the tendency to hope that the future will bring favorable results and it is what helps us to face difficulties with courage, to discover the positive that both people and circumstances have.

5. Don't isolate yourself. The human being is a bio-psychosocial entity In difficult moments, the first people to appear are our closest friends and our family. Fortunately, we have technological means with which we can have conversations looking at each other despite being far away, so let's use these means to talk, to play, to encourage and encourage us, to share experiences.

6. Work and cultivate your self-esteem Self-esteem depends on the extent to which we feel valued, loved, and accepted by others and to what extent we value, love, and accept ourselves. Become aware of all that you have achieved so far and of all that you have left to achieve.

To do this, do the exercise of setting goals, physical exercise and do not neglect your friends (you have to find time to send a message from time to time to the people with whom you speak least, for example).

Now: In what way can we support children and people with disabilities for whom it is not so easy to adapt to such drastic changes to cope with these types of situations and especially to learn for life?

When talking about people with intellectual disabilities, many still see it as a situation in which the person has to solve absolutely everything. Fortunately, we families are clear that this is not the case. Resilient attitudes are fostered and worked on. We all have certain resources that can help us cope with adversity. Our task when we work with people with disabilities is to discover in each one the signs of resilience and the resources they possess, no matter how weak they may appear.

For people with disabilities it is vital to offer them all the resources at our disposal to boost their capacities to adapt and handle situations and events instead of focusing on what is not easy for them to do.

Promoting resilience is recognizing strength beyond vulnerability. It is about improving the quality of life of people from their own meanings, as they perceive and face the world.

Attitudes that enable the promotion of resilience

* Establish interpersonal relationships

* Discover and value positive aspects in each person and learn to accept ourselves with our defects and our virtues. Trust in the ability of people to be better than they are today.

* Be empathetic, that is, be able to put ourselves in the place of the other to understand their points of view, their attitudes and their actions.

* Never tolerate attitudes of humiliation, ridicule, devaluation, indifference; These negatively affect the image and the confidence that the person has of himself.

* Lead by example, adopting attitudes of respect, solidarity and understanding.

* Taking into account the needs, difficulties and expectations of each person are different.

* Stimulate the development of listening skills, verbal and non-verbal expression and communication in general.

* Use limits, reassuring behaviors, and verbal observations to help the person.

* Develop consistent behaviors that transmit values ​​and norms, including resilience factors. * Praise desired accomplishments and behaviors.

* Correct mistakes with love and understanding, so as not to foster anguish of being rejected in the face of disapproval.

* Foster the acceptance of responsibility for the behaviors and, at the same time, promote their confidence and optimism about the desired results.

* Stimulate creativity and imagination.

* Allow to honestly express feelings and emotions

* Develop relationships with others through free games without neglecting the establishment of rules and limits.

Sources consulted

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