MANILA — With Filipinos still reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown of Luzon, there is a lot of concern on the mental health and well-being of the populace.
Dr. Rolando Balburias, who practices health optimization medicine, said Thursday that changing behavior and food choices can help ease the anxiety in the midst of the prevailing global health crisis.
“If you continue to expose yourself to the news and social media feeds that cause panic or fear, then we are stimulating the primitive part of our brains, what we call the amygdala,” Balburias said in Filipino during Malacañang’s televised Laging Handa briefing.
The amygdala is the deepest part of the brain network’s limbic system, responsible for emotional processes.
Balburias explained that over-stimulation of the amygdala can cause a person to make decisions based on fear.
This also affects sleep, he said. “And sleep affects your immune system. You are going to compromise your health.”
He said this is why some people end up panic buying or even actually getting sick because of worry.
Asked what can be done to help ease anxiety at a time like this, Balburias said taking “adaptogens” or natural substances that are believed to help people adapt to stress can help.
Among the examples he mentioned are chamomile tea, turmeric, ginger and passion flower.
“These are kinds of tea that give a calming effect or help us focus so we don’t get too affected,” he said.
People should also learn to disconnect from the news, more so from fake news circulating online, he said.
Praying and meditation can help a lot, too.
Balburias said eating green leafy vegetables, seafood and other food rich in minerals can help calm the mind as well.
The Philippines main island of Luzon has been on lockdown since March 17, with public transportation and other services suspended, in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The country has, so far, logged 2,311 cases of the infectious disease that originated from China. Ninety-six patients have died, while 50 others have recovered.