Dr. Andy Baldwin, a therapist, educator, scholar-practitioner, and leader, has received a B.A, M.S, and PhD in psychology. His specialization for his Masters is in Educational Psychology and his Doctorates in Clinical Psychology. Dr. Baldwin is Vice-Principal at an educational establishment and Therapist/psychotherapist at Kuwait Counseling Center. He comes with over 12 years of experience and his work is built around listening, understanding, guiding, and helping children, adolescents, and adults achieve a well-balanced lifestyle. His practice aims to help individuals develop and maintain a sense of mental well-being through counselling or psychotherapy (e.g., CBT, REBT, and Gestalt’s Approach), depending on the case and its’ severity.
Dr. Andy’s work and research is based on creating positive social change as his main vision and mission is to positively contribute to members of his community. As a scholar-practitioner, he focuses on the practical application of scholarly knowledge. This approach is initially developed to train clinical psychologists. Therefore, Dr. Andy dedicates his time to compile research based on empirical evidence, then applying it to the real life situations. Moreover, Dr. Andy has seen how significantly the pandemic (COVID-19) has negatively impacted people’s psychological, and social well-being; with the most exposed groups being children, college students, and adults. Many people have lost their jobs, or in some cases, have had income cuts, which in turn have caused stressful outcomes to many families. Unfortunately, such a vulnerable population is more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression.
Furthermore, social distancing has affected relationships amongst individuals, and their perception of empathy toward one another. If we would look back to studies of previous pandemics over time, such as SARS, Ebola, HINI, Equine Flu, and the current COVID-19, we can see that contagion and quarantine’s psychological effects lead to a sense of fear of contracting the virus (Barbisch et al. 2015). Some elements related to the pandemic also impact the population by means of separation from loved ones, loss of freedom, uncertainty about the advancement of the disease, and helplessness (Li and Wang, 2020; Cao et al., 2020). These aspects might lead to dramatic consequences (Weir, 2020), such as the rise of suicides (Kawohl and Nordt, 2020). Suicidal behaviours are often related to the feeling of anger associated with the stressful condition widely spread among people who lived/live in the most affected areas (Miles, 2014; Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, 2020; Mamun and Griffiths, 2020).
There are always recommendations that one can take advantage of during this time, such as seeking help from a therapist. The question is, “what can we do now?” Dr. Andy recommends tips in the latter section.
Things we can do now to help manage and avoid such unwanted thoughts, feelings, and actions is to practice self-care. Self-care is when one provides adequate attention to their own physical and psychological needs prior to others. Dr. Andy emphasizes on self-care, which is composed of three different components. One component is taking part in pleasant activities. This is because pleasant activities automatically make people happier, as serotonin and dopamine chemicals are naturally released-these chemicals are also known to be happy chemicals. Fortunately, such pleasant activities also promote a gain of self-confidence and self-esteem due to the accomplishment of set tasks. The other two components of self-care include setting healthy boundaries and learning to say no, which are essential to our own well-being.
Beyond that, creating and sticking to a routine/schedule where you may have specific activities, chores, errands, and other important commitments can also help individuals cope with this pandemic. Another powerful tool Dr. Andy recommends is journaling. According to scientific research, journaling automatically recalibrates the mind to grasp onto more of the positive thoughts than the automatic negative thoughts. Your journal is “Gold” and is an amazing tool utilize to dump your negative thoughts, and events or/and experiences that bother you. One must write without thinking and not read what was written to avoid negative self-criticizing tendencies. After journaling, all that is required is for you to close your journal and place it away.
All in all, the pandemic has affected the population’s sense of social and psychological well-being in negative ways. We have become more vulnerable to stress, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression. However, there is always a way to overcome such variables by seeking help and trying some of Dr. Andy’s recommendations. Dr. Andy would like to end this article with a statement. You do have the right to feel sad or angry; however, when you allow such emotions alleviate to a point where they become destructive and begin to dictate your life, anxiety or/and depression is born. Once born, Anxiety, in particular, starts to take a role in feeding you invalid thoughts, which affect how you feel and behave. It is crucial to keep in mind that anxiety and depression are thieves as they can steal your life away from you. Imagine this in a metaphorical form. Imagine anxiety and/or depression as thieves that are grabbing you from the back of your neck, stopping you from taking a step forward step to improve your life. Lastly, you not only deserve to be happy and respected, but it is your right!