Charity conducts online sessions to reduce anxiety and stress amid coronavirus concerns

Brahm Centre founder Angie Chew said that some people are worried about the possibility of losing their jobs if the coronavirus situation significantly impacts their companies. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - To take people's minds off news surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, a charity that works with the elderly here has been offering sessions over the Internet where participants learn to cope with stress and anxiety.

The sessions by the Brahm Centre are being followed on Facebook Live, as well as on audio and video conferencing platform Zoom.

On Monday (Feb 17), there were more than 430 views on Facebook and over 200 people registered on Zoom to take part in a 45-minute session.

"Given that there is so much fear and so many changes that people are facing, I thought the session would be helpful for people to pause, take a few deep breaths and calm their minds," said Associate Professor Angie Chew, who earlier this month was named The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year 2019 for her work with the Brahm Centre.

"A tumultuous mind is not helpful to being productive for whatever they need to focus on and get done at work or in daily chores," added Prof Chew, who is the founder of the centre.

The centre, set up in 2012, provides free health education to the elderly, as well as emotional and mental support to those who need it.

The mindfulness classes she conducts over the Internet started on Feb 10, with sessions held at 12.30pm on weekdays.

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention in the present moment in a non-judgmental way. Techniques to train the mind and strengthen the brain to focus in this manner include breath awareness and movement exercises.

For the latest sessions, she also teaches shoulder rotations to relieve neck and shoulder tension, and a body scan practice to locate aches and pains and then relax the muscles.

Feedback online has been positive, with some saying the sessions were "insightful", "valuable" and "helpful".

One person said: "(It's) useful to set this time apart and create (my) own space to declutter from so much news and distraction."

The centre has more than 30 employees, and operates in Novena, Simei and MacPherson. A new centre is slated to open in Tampines this year.

Prof Chew, 56, said that some people are worried about the possibility of losing their jobs if the coronavirus situation significantly impacts their companies.

The uncertainty can cause a lot of worry and create pressure to perform, so calming the mind can help them to focus on the things needed to be done.

"We are reminded that we are hired to provide solutions to whatever problems are on the table, instead of being someone who becomes a problem," said Prof Chew.

Brahm Centre will also be introducing online mindfulness courses in March for those who cannot turn up at the centres or choose not to.

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