Covid 19: Psychological Well-being during the lock-down
South Africa has joined the majority of countries in instituting a nationwide lock-down. Most of us dread the prospect of staying at home for the period of 21 days. It is important that we consider some of the psychological aspects of coping with the challenges facing us during this period. For most a lock-down of this nature and magnitude is an unprecedented and novel experience. It is critical that we act collectively to slow the spread of the virus, but we are treading on unfamiliar territory in giving up some of our rights, changing our routines and distancing ourselves from our friends and family. For most the future, all of a sudden, seem very uncertain leaving us overwhelmed.
Seemingly predictable lives have unexpectedly been plunged into confusion, leading to feelings of fear and anxiety about various aspects that influence our lives and well-being. These include our overall health as well as the health of our loved ones, as well as with the uncertainty about how we will go about earning a living and caring for the people we love should the situation not be remedied soon.
It is therefore of the utmost importance that you are kind to yourself and be open to reaching out for help should you struggle in coping with the situation.
If you are disconnected from your usual support structures, you should try to identify someone that you trust and that you can talk to.
Sharing feelings and experiences with others allow us to be supported by people that we trust as well as supporting those that we care for.
Of utmost importance is how you scrutinise and interact with information pertaining to the Covid 19 pandemic and the lock-down. While it is important to remain informed and plan for the future, be careful not to overload yourself with information and be sure to look for information from reputable sources. Be especially aware of social media, where inaccurate, sensationalised or catastrophising information may be propagated. Such information will negatively affect your mood and mind-set and only lead to a downward spiral in your psychological well-being.
Coping with the lock-down
The idea of a lock-down is daunting and the disruption to our daily routines may lead to heightened feelings of anxiety, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, and increased tension between loved ones confined to their place of residence. This is especially true for children, who may exhibit sore tummies, unruly behaviour and withdrawal, adding to your difficulties with coping with the new routines.
Establishing and maintaining new routines is critical to provide a sense of safety, stability and comfort, both for you and your children.
While we will all experience the loss of our usual routines, this lock-down also presents us with the unique opportunity to adopt new healthy behaviours and adopt healthy new habits.
We can decide to take control of our time and direct it towards a beneficial objective that will not only bolster our mental fortitude in the short term, but benefit us in the long run.
Decide that you will emerge a better person after 21 days and work towards that goal. Examples of such goals may include improving you fitness, strengthening family ties, increasing your knowledge through reading or studying literature, conducting research in a field of interest etc.
The importance of the connection between physical and mental health cannot be overstated. When our bodies feel drained, slow or unwell, so will our minds. Not being allowed to leave the house then presents us with some challenges, but fortunately there are a vast amount of exercise routines we can adopt. Look up exercises you can do indoors. Remember consistency is the key. A 20-minute daily routine over the space of a week can dramatically benefit both our mental and physical health.
It has scientifically been proven that meditation leads to decreased stress, anxiety, depression and fatigue. It further reduces compulsive thinking with its associated negative effects. The positive effects of meditation have been shown time and time again in psychological research. All that is required is 10-20 minutes a day and a bit of patience to get started. Like exercise, meditation shows its best results when it is done consistently, making this lock-down period an ideal time to develop this beneficial habit. Should you be interested in intruding meditation into your life it may be best to search for guided meditations on You-tube and choosing one that resonates with you. I highly recommend Jason Stephenson’s guided meditations as I have found them to be very suitable for those new to the discipline of meditation and I regularly use them in my meditation classes.
Communication is essential to stave off the feelings of isolation, and although the lock-down makes person-to-person interaction with anyone beside immediate family or roommates a challenge, we thankfully live in a world of digital communication technologies. Now is the time to take full advantage of what our hyper-connected world has to offer. Programs such as Skype or Zoom allow you to have face-to-face conversations, while messenger apps such as Whatsapp ensure you stay in touch with the outside world.
Remember that purpose of a lock-down is to protect the vulnerable in our society. You may be young and healthy enough to cope with the virus, but by acting with unity and consideration, we are protecting others. Should you require assistance feel free to contact me on 060 825 3020 or drop me an e-mail on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Look after yourself and specially your mental health!
For more information visit: www.lifesuccess.co.za