Dr Ang Yong Guan — a psychiatrist with over three decades of experience — advised people to “find the meaning in this collective sense of loss” when coping with the negative emotions amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Dr Ang was invited by Dr Tan Cheng Bock, Secretary-General of Progress Singapore Party to speak in a Facebook video — which was produced before 7 April — on how to cope with the COVID-19 situation.
Dr Ang, who contested in two prior General Elections (GE) under two different parties – the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) GE2011 and under the Singaporean First Party (SingFirst) in GE2015 – made his first appearance as an official member of PSP in the video.
According to Dr Ang, although “this form of restricted living” is good for the people’s overall well being as well as to contain the spread of the virus, people may feel that they have lost their way of living.
“Together we feel a collective sense of loss during this crisis. For instance, a loss of our ability to move about freely, a loss of unrestricted social interaction and connection with others, a loss of safety and a loss of normalcy,” he remarked.
He noted that each individual reacts psychologically to the pandemic based on their mental resilience, adding “Our outlook on life and the kind of support we get from our friends and family members. Humans go through various stages in reacting to a loss.”
To cope with the negative emotions, Dr Ang suggested finding meaning in this collective sense of loss and one of the ways to do so is by practicing ‘mindfulness’.
“Focus on our breathing and remain calm and stable,” Dr Ang advised. “Focus on opening our minds and observe the many ways of viewing this crisis. Focus on the present, cherish the here and now and not lament about the past or worry about the future.”
Dr Ang added, “You may end up finding new hobbies during this period.”
He also urged people to focus on optimal protection such as keeping distance and wearing masks, reminding people not to panic buying or hoarding as others need to buy groceries as well.
“At the end of this whole journey, you may end up more enlightened with a new approach to life,” Dr Ang noted.