Strokes, already a common illness, could attack more Barbadians as they struggle with stress brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, an occupational therapist has warned.
With significant numbers of people now working from home, due to the lockdown, therapist Melanie Buge said they should be mindful about how they use their time by ensuring they designate specific times for activities.
Buge said: “Where we would have been accustomed to getting up at five o’clock in the morning and getting in our car and driving to the gym, we have to make the same amount of effort to be disciplined in those areas. Because the reality of the kind of life that we are living right now is that we can’t go outside and participate in life as we would like to.
“And so, as an occupational therapist, largely, we have to do an analysis of our activities and see what components of them we can apply to our current life situation to encourage participation and function.”
At a Barbados Coalition of Service Industries (BCSI) webinar in its 2021 Fishbowl Conversation Series entitled Productivity in Uncertainty: A Focus on Holistic Health, Buge said that it was critical for people to maintain a healthy diet at this time.
She suggested engaging in physical activities, even if it means running around their house a few times or following online exercise programmes to stave off non-communicable diseases that lead to strokes.
People must also surround themselves with supporters and resources that would motivate them, she suggested.
Buge said: “I know personally, motivation is something that has been dwindling as it relates to engagement. And so you have to depend on the people around you. Talk to your family, talk to your friends and utilize the resources that you have within your reach, and don’t suffer in silence because there are so many people around that you can use to help and to motivate.”
The occupational therapist noted that people have been identifying work-life balance as a major challenge. She has received numerous complaints from clients about the amount of time they have been spending on their computer without allowing themselves a breathing space to stretch their legs, to have a meal, she said.
She also indicated that there have been instances where an occupational therapist has had to conduct home visits to allow people working from home to function as safely as possible with the resources available.
Psychologist Jomo Phillips, who also participated in the discussion, noted that while Barbadians are living through the greatest threat ever faced in generations, it may be difficult for many to be motivated to exercise and focus on other aspects of their lives at this time.
Phillips said this lack of motivation should be seen as normal given the overwhelming nature of the ongoing pandemic.
“And I think this pandemic that we are living through, provides us with an opportunity where we start to think about what provides us with purpose.,” Phillips said. “A lot of people, including entrepreneurs are home right now, what are some of the things that can just give us a sense of purpose as we are on this particular pause right now.”
But Toney Olton, an emotional intelligence consultant, suggested that in order for people to overcome a lack of motivation, they should acknowledge their personal strengths and “gaps”. He suggested that those who do not feel motivated should rely on others to help them fill these gaps.
Olton told the forum: “One of the most fundamental keys to life again is being mindful, being present, and being in the moment, always ask yourselves what is the best that I can do. So I have been a barber, I have been a chef, I have been a hairdresser, whatever it is I am now prevented from functioning in that space. But in the space that I now occupy, whatever that space, whatever that circumstance, what is the best that I can do.
“There must be something that I can do, whatever it is, however small it is, do it. Something happens inside of us when in spite of what circumstance faces us, we do our best. Our best would change from time to time, but our mindset must be, come hell or high water, I only always do my best. Something mysterious happens inside and outside of us. Just meet life wherever life meets you and figure out what is the best that I can do.”
Senior Project Manager Celia Collymore who moderated the forum urged Barbadians to get practical and find their purpose in life. ([email protected])