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#AskTheExpert with Doc Joan Rifareal | Ep. 4: What a Healthy Woman Looks Like

#AskTheExpert with Doc Joan Rifareal | Ep. 4: What a Healthy Woman Looks Like

Watch episode 4 in our special #AskTheExpert series for International Women’s Day 2022, tackling mental health issues that continue to plague women today. Our expert is none other than psychiatrist Dr. Joan Mae Perez-Rifareal.

[What follows is the complete episode transcript]

Kai Magsanoc: Hello po. Welcome to episode 4 of our special #AskTheExpert series with Doc Joan Rifareal for International Women’s Month in celebration of International Women’s Day. Thank you Doc Joan for doing this series with us. Sobrang exciting. If you missed the first three episodes, look at the videos tab of our Facebook page, especially episode 3 for moms. If you’re not a mom and you know someone, and you want to remind a mom to take care of herself, please share that video with her. So for this particular episode, we’re gonna talk about what a healthy woman looks like. Kasi Doc Joan, last January, when I asked for a transformative coach to speak with my team, he told us about — diba every day, we have our to-do list, but we forget to create a to-be list. What do we want to feel? What is the feeling we want to attain? And even when I speak to my team, when we talk about deadlines, I always tell them — what do you want to feel at the end of this task? Diba that fulfillment na done. It’s all done, I did it. So, that’s what we’re going to do now, Doc Joan. We’re going to help our viewers have an idea if they’re mentally and emotionally healthy, physically healthy, how does that look like? How productive can they be? Let’s start with mental health, Doc Joan. When we say that a woman is mentally healthy, what does that mean?

Doc Joan Rifareal: Yes, for this question Kai, mas maganda if we go back to the World Health Organization’s definition of mental health. Kasi doon, spinecify nila ano ba iyong 4 elements of mental health, and I think this is very up, I mean the definition will answer this question. So when we say mentally healthy or a woman is mentally healthy. Number 1 — she is able to realize or know kung ano ang kanyang mga skills. Alam niya kung ano ang kanyang mga talents, abilities, alam niya iyon and aware siya doon. Ano ba ang kanyang, saan ba siya nagexcel, kanyang mga forte, so that’s one. Number 2 — she is able to cope with the stressors of life. Very important ‘yung word na stress, meaning stress can happen anytime and anywhere, any person or situation. The second important word there is cope, meaning coping is very important, so alam natin how to cope and navigate through life’s stressors. Number 3 — able to work productively and fruitfully, meaning given our tasks, our roles as women, as a mom, at the end of the day, pwede natin sabihin na ops, I was productive today. I was able to do something, contribute to, or help my family or help my child with lessons niya. Nakapagluto ako, nakapaglinis, nakapaglaba, nakapagplantsa, mga ganun. And lastly — we are able to make a contribution to our community, so in any way we can. So, iyong iba, they become so active sa mga church nila, sa mga organizations, they help kung saan-saan, mga community pantry, mga ganun. So, in a way we also give back, we are able to give back to the community. Iyon ‘yung 4 elements of mental health and that would answer itong qquestion mo na ito, Kai.

Kai Magsanoc: Thanks, Doc Joan. So, when we were thinking about topics for International Women’s Day, somehow sineparate, there were members of the team who separated mental health from emotional health. So next question is, when we say that a woman is emotionally healthy, what does that mean?

When we say mental health, ano na rin siya, it would encompass na rin iyong mental, psychological, emotional, so talagang we cannot separate them kasi there’s always that interplay always, interplay always of these elements of health.

Dr. Joan Rifareal

Doc Joan Rifareal: Oh, usually kasi Kai, when we say mental health, ano na rin siya, it would encompass na rin iyong mental, psychological, emotional, so talagang we cannot separate them kasi there’s always that interplay always, interplay always of these elements of health. Pero specific na lang sa emotional health and well-being, emotions, the feelings. Number 1 is when someone is able to acknowledge kung ano ang kanyang emotions during specific time. For example, we are able to acknowledge na hay talaga ako, I feel so sad. I feel frustrated. I feel angry. Then, with that acknowledgment, it tells us na we are emotionally healthy kasi wea re able to acknowledge it, because with that acknowledgement cpmes the action part. Ano ang pwede nating gawin? Kung narealize natin na tayo pala, emotionally, we are feeling all of these emotions. Ano ang pwede natin gawin for us to be able to address it, to improve it, to do something about it, para it will not progress or become persistent. And again, able to handle different emotions as well. So, iyong nahahandle natin siya even if we are angry, we feel frustrated, we are still cognizant na yes, these are our emotions pero hindi siya nagtatake-over sa ating logical part of the brain. We are still able to function well despite the emotions that we go through.

So, iyong nahahandle natin siya even if we are angry, we feel frustrated, we are still cognizant na yes, these are our emotions pero hindi siya nagtatake-over sa ating logical part of the brain. We are still able to function well despite the emotions that we go through.

Dr. Joan Rifareal

Kai Magsanoc: Okay. I think nagets ko na rin Doc bakit nila ito pinaghiwalay kasi baka iniisiip nila na mental health — IQ tapos iyong emotional health — EQ, ‘no. Baka iyon ‘yung rationale nila.

Doc Joan Rifareal: Yes, pwede. Correct correct. Pwede iyon, Kai. ‘pag siguro mental health brain; logical part of the brain. And then emotional health iyong sa feelings, emotions. But, when we say kasi na mental health, kasama na rin siya. It will encompass everything pati psychological coping skills, mga ganun, health and well-being. So, always lang na tandaan natin is that our thoughts, kung positive ang ating thoughts, then it also have an impact in our emotions. May ano talaga sila, they’re intterelated, intertwined, in fact. When we entertain iyong mga positive thoughts, hopeful lang tayo, we are able to cope well, then it can also make us feel good, and it can translate into posistive actions. May interplay lagi ng mind, the feelings, and actions, so kaya mas maganda we are cognizant of all the interplays na nangyayari at one point.

Kai Magsanoc: Okay. I know you answered this same question, asked differently in a different episode. Pero, just for the benefit of those who are watching this episode sa series, ito lang ang naabutan nila, ‘no. Ano nga ba ulit, how is physical health affected when our mental and emotional health suffer?

Doc Joan Rifareal: Yes. Again, there is an interplay between the physical, mental, social, spiritual, kasama na rin ang spiritual aspect sa health and well-being. So, when we feel all these mental health concerns, which may make us feel bad, frustrated, or feel negatively, then it may affect our physical health as well. For example, kung tayo po ay sobrang stressed, we feel so tired, burned out, sobrang taas ng stress levels, it can manifest physically in the form of physical symptoms. For example, because of the increase in cortisol or the stress hormones, it can manifest as high blood pressure, it can affect our sleeping patterns, it can increase the risk of stroke, for diabetes, for obesity, at nagkakaroon ng other implications or impact in other hormones of our bodies. Kaya nagkakaroon talaga ng manifestation physically when we go through mental health concerns and mga highly-charged emotional states.

Kai Magsanoc: Okay, since nabanggit na riin natin iyong physical health, diba Doc Joan. Kapag sinabing physical diba, iyong mga annual check-up diba, lagi namang chinecheck niyan ay physical health eh, pero iyong mental health doc, mayroon bang regular check-ups that need to be done to asssess a person’s state of mental health? And, saan kami pupunta?

Doc Joan Rifareal: Oh yeah, mas maganda. Kasi kami, to just share Kai, in my own practice, for some, they come to the office or the clinic, or they call me, they message me, kahit wala naman talagang specific na mental health concern but just to check-in. ‘Doc, is this still considered pa ba as good or normal?’ ‘Tama pa ba ang mga decisions ko?’ So, regular check-ins. Let’s start muna with the most accessible, kung wala pa tayong access sa mental health professionals, family. So, let’s take advantage of that. Regular and open lines of communication with family members is one way for us to maintaon our mental and emotional health and well-being.

Regular and open lines of communication with family members is one way for us to maintaon our mental and emotional health and well-being.

Dr. Joan Rifareal

Mas maganda lagi may nakakausap tayo, someone whom we trust. If not from the family, maybe mga mentors from our schools, from mga offices natin, mentors, supervisors. Iyong iba naman sa school, they have their mga guidance counselors, or mga school psychologists. So marami, in fact. Iyong iba naman na walang access to all those i’ve mentioned, sa church, i mean, talking to your virtual leaders, advisers, those are very helpful and therapeutic already. But, kung talagang tingin natin na it’s something na talagang a bit, it’s quite serious, then we really need to reach out and talk to mental health professionals na for proper guidance. Kung talagang ito ba ay warrant further assessment and management.

Kai Magsanoc: Okay. Thank you so much, Doc.

Learn more about women’s health here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Written by Fiel Tugade Updated Apr 04
Medically reviewed by Dexter Macalintal, MD