Still, that doesn’t exempt Never The Strangers’ Ace Libre from experiencing mental health issues triggered by a potentially fatal virus looming in our midst.
“Ako kasi, ‘di ako lumalabas unless kailangan, so a lot of the time I’m home and stuck with my thoughts,” says Ace, who guested alongside singer/songwriter Zild Benitez in Huminga, a Facebook live event organized by MindNation for Mental Health Awareness Month last May. “Medyo kailangan ko din mag-adjust to regulate my own emotions and to find different outlets to let out my different frustrations. Kasi your mind tends to go crazy when you’re just still.” (Read: Liza Soberano Opens Up About Anxiety, Shares Tips for Good Mental Health)
From the event, My Pope Philippines shares the musician’s thoughts on coping with anxiety during a pandemic with no end in sight just yet:
On the pandemic affecting his productivity
“Ako talaga hindi ako maka-engage in anything creative, which mostly para sa akin is music. Lalo ko siyang na-feel nung nagsimula maglabasan ng new music ‘yung mga fellow artists dito sa OPM music industry. Tapos sobrang nilalabanan ko ‘yung thought na ‘O, bakit nasa bahay ka lang naman ah, wala ka naman ibang ginagawa. Bakit ‘di mo magawang maglabas ng bagong stuff tulad ng iba?’ I really had to battle that. Nag-take a break ako from music. Sinubukan ko lang talagang mabuhay, whether it’s video games or nanonood lang ako ng TV shows or movies, para lang makapagpahinga.” (Read: 3 Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health While in Quarantine)
My Pope Takeaway: Sometimes, forcing yourself to be creative yields less-than-desirable results, if any at all. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not productive. Engage in pleasurable or even mindless activities to relax. Live life, as Ace suggests. Eventually, your creative juices will flow.
On how journaling helps him cope
“Nagsusulat ako sa journal ko. (Read his thoughts in Bottled Notes.) Kailangan kong i-take stock of kung anong nangyayari dito. Sa maraming entries ko naisulat ko din ‘yung hindi ako okay in different ways.”
My Pope Takeaway: When your thoughts are too private to share, even with your closest confidante, write them down in a journal. Journaling is now a recognized form of therapy and can prove cathartic in unburdening you of anxiety, sadness, and fear. (Read: 3 Unique Journals to Keep if You Don’t Like the ‘Boring’ Ones)
On the benefits of exercise
“Sa mga ibang araw naman, kung medyo na fi-feel ko, I play danceable music para gumalaw ako.”
My Pope Takeaway: Lockdowns may limit your movements, but there are still ways to get exercise in. Follow an aerobics video on YouTube. Jump rope in place. Or do as Ace does and dance. Physical activity releases endorphins, the so-called “happy hormones” that naturally lift the spirit.
On human interactions
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“When you’re alone a lot of the time, which happens now, may tendency ‘yung utak mo magsinungaling minsan. If you’re not careful, if you don’t have these mental safeguards, you might fall for the whispers in your mind.”
“[My bandmates and I] meet every week so nagkukumustahan din kami. I think importante din ‘yon, to know that we all have each other’s backs, that we’re in the know of what everyone’s going through.”
My Pope Takeaway: When you’re caught up in negative thoughts, turn to friends who can assure you of their love and support. Technology allows us to keep in touch, albeit virtually. Sometimes, a video or voice call with a friend is as comforting as an actual hug. (Read: 4 False Beliefs That Hold You Back From Being Your Best Self)
What he would say to us
“Doing your best looks different every day. Hindi siya ‘yung 100 percent all the time. Minsan, the best you can do for the day is just to survive, tend to your self-recovery and to your self-healing, and that’s okay. Always be forgiving of yourself.”