We are at the start of a new week and lockdown is still our new normal. This week would have been hyped with items signifying the Easter period. It would have also been the first long weekend since December. This would have been a much-needed break from the first quarter of the work year however we have been experiencing a break since the lockdown kicked in.
That being said, Easter will not be the same this year. Infact most religious bodies have expressed their heartbreak as the places of worship were forced to close their doors during the time of the lockdown.
As much as we accept and understand the need for this, we can’t help but worry about those devoted souls who require this time in the house of God as a means of calm amid the chaos. At the same time this lockdown has anxiety levels on over drive.
The uncertainty of what will happen after the lockdown, then there is the stress of April’s salary being enough to cover the debit orders and the tension of whether I have to take annual leave to make up for the time of loss of work during the lockdown.
These thoughts are overwhelming and in the time of the lockdown they can creep up on you and throw you off your calm game. If you are the sole breadwinner of the family then this feeling of depression and anxiety is natural. Unfortunately, they often go undiagnosed and untreated because even in 2020 we still have a stigma around mental health issues.
The sad reality is that even though you are feeling overwhelmed you have to keep it at bay to ensure the rest of the home does not feel their captain losing vision as the journey gets rocky ahead. But it is a lot worse for those who are already silently suffering from depression.
Doctors say those already suffering from depression and anxiety are the worst hit. “Too much outburst of information about Covid-19 is creating widespread panic. Everything being fed is negative that is further increasing anxiety. Even if a person sneezes or coughs, he thinks that he has coronavirus symptoms and he is going to die. Mass hysteria is creating panic,” said Dr Rajiv Mehta, Vice Chairperson, Institute of Psychiatry and Behavioural Science, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. “Infected persons or suspects think quarantine facility is a jail. This is impacting their mental health. There is also a fear of social stigma,” he said.
How to maintain anxiety and stress during the lockdown?
- Have a routine. As much as you can create a routine. Don’t allow yourself to lay in bed long after the alarm goes off. Get out of bed, take a shower and have breakfast with the family. A routine is extremely important. We use it with kids so why not keep one for ourselves.
- If you can, go out in nature. Step outside and breath in fresh, clean air. Allow your mind to identify the blessings on nature. Look around at the trees, listen to the birds and smell the freshness of nature. This will allow your mind to feel grounded. Recent research has found that spending time in nature boosts mental and physical health. Many studies also have found that time in green and blue space is associated with reduced anxiety and depression.
- Try to declutter your home. Identify things that you don’t need and get rid of it. It may not be possible to drive to a charity store to make a donation but keep it aside and do it once the lockdown is over. There are studies that show cleaning a home or decluttering a space can re-establish control. This is crucial especially in times when you feel uncertain.
- Meditate. Use the time in your day to practise breathing exercises. Research has also shown that most people who meditate show a reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Maintain a social connection. As much as possible engage with people that feed your soul with positivity. Use the time to video your call, skype or even just voice call a familiar person who makes you feel better. It is important to maintain these social connections as this keeps your mind active and does not allow you to trigger the anxiety.
For professional help with issues around mental health contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group on 011 234 4837
Devan Moonsamy is the CEO of ICHAF Training Institute. ICHAF offers SETA-approved training in business skills, computer use, and soft skills. Devan specialises in conflict and diversity management, and regularly conducts seminars on these issues for corporates. To book a seminar with Devan or for other training courses, please use the contact details below.