The psychological impact of the coronavirus confinement in Spain

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Visitors during the reopening of the Prado museum to the public in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, June 6, 2020. (AP)
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Worshipers attend a funeral Mass at Seville’s Cathedral, Spain. (File/AP)
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A woman wearing a protective face mask salutes as people hold a minute of silence during the last day of the official ten-day mourning of those who died of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Puerta del Sol square in Madrid, Spain. (File/Reuters)
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People wearing protective face masks queue near a musician wearing a protective face mask, while they wait to enter at the Prado museum as it reopens to the public under strict social distance measures, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Madrid, Spain, June 6, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 07 June 2020

The psychological impact of the coronavirus confinement in Spain

  • The lockdown is affecting our mental wellbeing in one way or another

MADRID: A third of the world’s population, around 2.6 billion people, have been forced to live under some kind of lockdown or quarantine to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The confinement is having multiple effects, including financial and social, but less visible is the psychological toll.
The lockdown is affecting our mental wellbeing in one way or another, varying depending on factors like age, gender or pre-existing states, just like COVID-19 itself affects different patients.
In Spain, 47 million people had to be confined at home for almost 3 months since the state of emergency was announced by the government. Professionals in the psychology sector subsequently found there were common reactions felt by people confined to their homes. 

“The most common reaction we observed in this time of confinement has to do with the emotion of fear, which is logical and normal to feel, taking into consideration the exceptional circumstances in which we are living,” said the psychologist, Dr. Amin El Imami. “Fear is a primary feeling which is accompanied many times by reactions of anxiety and uncertainty. The majority of people will overcome these symptoms once everything gets back to the new normal; it is recommended that these people adapt as soon as possible, while taking the necessary health precautions.”
Dr. Ignacio Hernandez, another psychologist, added: “Some people suffering from fear are also afraid to leave the house even when lockdown is over, they are afraid of contagion, or of infecting others.”
The pandemic as a whole is also leaving a psychological impact on some groups more than others. “Health care staff suffer more stress than any other group as they are exposed to pressure and anxiety on a daily basis battling COVID-19 on the front line,” Hernandez added. “The amount of stress has been excessive, especially at the beginning of the pandemic with thousands of cases increasing by the day.”




People wearing protective face masks hold a minute of silence during the last day of the official ten-day mourning of those who died of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Puerta del Sol square in Madrid, Spain. (File/Reuters)

The financial factor due to the pandemic is also leaving a psychological impact on people. “Families who lost their jobs or had to close their business because of the health crisis are living in uncertain financial situation which is adding more stress to their lives,” said Hernandez.
It is important to get professional help to get back to normal and recover mental wellbeing when experiencing stress over a long period. “It is crucial to let all those feelings out, allow people to feel all these different emotions, to be heard, and share empathy. Ask for professional help when needed,” Hernandez added.
There are several programs to help people resolve stress. María del Mar Hidalgo and Natalia Jiménez are professional life coaches, with Jiménez a trained psychologist. They run a workshop together for parents, children, teachers and schools as well as for corporate clients, where they discuss different topics to help overcome problems due to coexistence during confinement, such as conflict, stress, trust, learning how to listen and how to let go.




Customers queue outside a sportswear and equipment store during the coronavirus outbreak in Barcelona, Spain. (File/AP)

“(Our program) ‘Parents 8.5’ is an online program that aims to strengthen family relationships, especially between parents and children during confinement with unresolved issues within the family and communication problems, which is a challenge for the whole family,” said Hidalgo.
“People are feeling stressed and depressed because of these situations; they don’t know how to keep going which make them feel frustrated. They need to be heard, have more constructive and fun conversations, enjoy more family time and learn to know each other better,” added Jiménez.
Even when the lockdown is over and we are back to normal life, some people will still have emotional scars, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In order to recover and cope with this, Hernandez says: “We need to work individually and collectively to avoid permanent traumas. We need to see this as an opportunity to learn and get conclusions that will help us in life. It is very important to cry, scream all we need, and ask for help and not to let any feelings (stay) inside. We all should help ourselves and others on the way and try to live in the present.”


In Lebanon, single-concert festival serenades empty ruins

Updated 05 July 2020

In Lebanon, single-concert festival serenades empty ruins

  • The Baalbek International Festival was streamed live on television and social media
  • The night kicked off with the Lebanese philharmonic orchestra and choir performing the national anthem

BEIRUT: A philharmonic orchestra performed to spectator-free Roman ruins in east Lebanon Sunday, after a top summer festival downsized to a single concert in a year of economic meltdown and pandemic.
The Baalbek International Festival was instead streamed live on television and social media, in what its director called a message of “hope and resilience” amid ever-worsening daily woes.
The night kicked off with the Lebanese philharmonic orchestra and choir performing the national anthem, followed by Carmina Burana’s “O Fortuna,” a 13th century poem set to music.

The program, which ran for just over an hour, included a mix of classical music and rock and folk tunes by composers ranging from Beethoven to Lebanon’s Rahbani brothers.
Held in the open air and conducted by Harout Fazlian, the 150 musicians and chorists were scattered inside the illuminated Temple of Bacchus, as drones filmed them among the enormous ruins and Greco-Roman temples of Baalbek.
Festival director Nayla de Freige told AFP most artists performed for free at the designated UNESCO World Heritage site.
The concert aimed to represent “a way of saying that Lebanon does not want to die. We have an extremely productive and creative art and culture sector,” she said.
“We want to send a message of civilization, hope and resilience.”
Baalbek itself became a militia stronghold during Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war, but conservation and tourism have revived the ruins over the past three decades.
Lebanon is known for its summer music festivals, which have in past years drawn large crowds every night and attracted performers like Shakira, Sting and Andrea Bocelli.
Other festivals have not yet announced their plans for this year.
Lebanon has recorded just 1,873 cases of COVID-19, including 36 deaths.
But measures to stem the spread of the virus have exacerbated the country’s worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.
Since economic woes in the autumn sparked mass protests against a political class deemed irretrievably corrupt, tens of thousands have lost their jobs or part of their income, and prices have skyrocketed.
Banks have prevented depositors from withdrawing their dollar savings, while the local currency has lost more than 80 percent of its value to the greenback on the black market.