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Doctors offer tips on protecting mental health during coronavirus

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People around the world have found themselves struggling with social isolation and other mental health challenges under lockdown. For all those still under lockdown, our reporter Stephany Yang gets advice from the professionals in Taiwan on how to cope.

If you''re self-isolating due to the pandemic, you might find yourself more prone to anxiety than usual. The loss of social interactions can have a profound impact on mental health. A Taipei Adventist Hospital psychiatrist recommends the H.O.P.E. method for stabilizing one''s mood. H.O.P.E is an acronym that stands for Help, Obligation, Planning, and Encouragement.

Hsu Cheng-dien
Taipei Adventist Hospital psychiatrist
H is help, we will self help or help each other. To call for help when you are in anxiety or in the fear sensation. The plan is to stabilize yourself, stabilize your behavior. On schedule living and on schedule planning for your learning, working, and sometimes social connection, by the email, by the social media.

With social distancing in place, children may find it hard to cope with changes in the world around them. They may also be spending more time online. Child psychiatrist Huang Guo-yang urges parents to limit their kids'' screen time. Instead of playing video games, they should use their time exercising, learning, and connecting with close friends and family.

Huang Guo-yang
Child psychiatrist
Encouraged through the internet is talk to someone you trust, practicing yoga, and excercising. I don''t think they encourage video games for children. A lot of literature revealed the negative psychological impact on children. Cyber addiction is a state that takes precedence over other social activities and life interests.

Grown-ups need exercise, too. Nutritionist Jen Kai-lin advises maintaining a healthy immune response with balanced meals and 30 minutes of exercise a day. Any alcohol intake should be limited, she says.

Jen Kai-lin
Nutritionist
Yes, make their own food. Or because right now there have lots of company that delivers the food to their home. Maybe they can choose their food choices to be more balanced. Rather than only order the noodles or order some fried chicken. They can order some vegetables or to make their diet more balanced.

Amid the pandemic, both physical health and mental health are important. Doctors say that those with trouble coping with recent changes should seek a trained counselor, or use resources provided by trusted public authorities.

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