Getting rid of the COVID-blues

Published July 25, 2021, 12:01 AM

by Philip Cu Unjieng


Philip Cu Unjieng

Chalk it up to quarantine fatigue and to the overconfidence from, and misunderstanding of, vaccination; but as we revert to GCQ here in the NCR, I get worrying reports about how both here and in major cities down South, there seems to be a reckless jumpstart to “normalcy.” And mind you, I don’t necessarily blame people for acting in this manner, as the shackles of COVID for over a year and four months would put a strain on any person. But if there was a time to not throw caution to the wind, and offset the gains we have made, that time is now.

As the reliable medical columnists have repeated, vaccination is not a guarantee of immunity. What it does is greatly reduce the chances of one contracting the virus; and more importantly, dying from it should one still catch the virus. Let’s not forget how these vaccines were all developed at warp speed, and how we’re evaluating their effectivity over “real time.” This doesn’t even take into account how the COVID variants, alpha to delta and lambda, weren’t even anticipated, and it’s just fortunate that the vaccines work against the variants with qualified success.

I hate the naïveté of people saying they’re vaccinated, and believing it’s some license to forego wearing masks or practicing social distancing. These people are prime candidates for asymptomatic carriers of COVID, and could end up being the more dangerous people within the community. And it’s so difficult talking to them or explaining things, as their knee jerk retort is to say, “then why did I bother getting vaccinated?” So hard to talk and reason out, when it’s that kind of attitude you have to deal with. And I’m sure so many of you out there know someone with that kind of attitude.

As for the “hold-out’s,” the ones still refusing to get vaccinated, the news of any fully vaccinated individual still fatally succumbing to COVID becomes their big justification for being so stubborn. They’re not interested in understanding any numbers game, the mere fact that such deaths occur become their hold-out rallying cry. They’re the other group that are sadly holding us back.

As functioning, reasonable individuals, if there are four cornerstones to what we should be paying close attention to and working on, they would be the following – a simple four step formula to alleviating those COVID-blues:

Sleep – Covidsomnia was the term coined, and I know it’s still a reality we face, as the quality of our sleep has deteriorated in the course of this prolonged pandemic. I suffer from this personally. There’s just more on our mind worrying and bothering us; and for many, it can be related to what we’re earning, with health or family issues, and how problematic things still are. We’ve adjusted, we “pivot’; but for the vast majority, these are trying times. Whether through meditation, developing better sleep habits; you can’t discount how important deep sleep is for the recharging of our bodies.

For Nutrition, check out Juana’s Mesa ni Misis plant-based cookbook. (Photo courtesy of Juana M-Yupangco)

Nutrition – This is about making sure we’re properly nourished and primed to combat sickness. Our immune system plays a vital role here, and while I’m not one to advocate any particular diet, I do subscribe to eating healthy as much as possible, without taking away completely the enjoyment of certain dishes. If you do want to go meatless, I’d recommend picking up the reprint edition of Juana Manahan-Yupangco’s Mesa ni Misis cookbook. It was cited in this year’s Gourmand Book Awards of France, in the vegetarian category. I love how Juana purposely seeks out local produce to keep the recipes fresh and affordable. Her Bolognese sauce that uses monggo instead of ground meat is my favorite.

Cycling and bike lanes in our NCR. (Photo courtesy of

Fitness  – This one is dead simple to understand, and it’s about regular and frequent exercise. And I’ll give credit to those who’ve taken up cycling. But can I also mention again how these cyclists have made it so dangerous to be on the roads nowadays. Do they all follow the bike lanes? Plus it’s the cyclists who sprint halfway across the thoroughfare before the lights facing them turn green. And if ever some accident will occur, they’ll play the “kawawa” game as they’re so vulnerable on a bike. I don’t understand why the traffic cops turn a blind eye to these infractions. Just saying…

Digital detox – The slogan here is “disconnect to reconnect” – and that’s disconnect from our digital world, to reconnect with the physical one. Our pandemic lives have seen such a dependence on going, and staying, online. Even before COVID, the Filipino was already notorious for the hours we’d spend online; so imagine how that has worsened. Globally, we are #1 in usage, and hours spent online. There’s a global average of six hours, 43 minutes spent on the internet daily, but the Filipino is clocking nine hours, 45 minutes – with social media taking up most of these hours spent. That’s just crazy, but it’s our reality. Even our children, with online learning, have boosted this national average.

So we really have to make the effort to turn hours that aren’t work- or school-related into hours free of being online. And that’s easier said than done. Like when was the last time we headed out of town or engaged in some weekend activity, and just turned all our devices off? Now, it’s like even when we do those activities, we’re just dying to get back online to post on IG, even when it really wouldn’t make a difference if we posted all those photos when we get back, or on Monday. Sad, but our dependence is so true.

If you analyze it, you’ll appreciate how all four are interconnected, or should be, in an ideal situation.