As the number of Covid-19 cases continues rising in SA, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that as of the 1st of May, the nationwide lockdown implemented in March will be eased in a five-level risk scale with level five being the highest risk level. South Africa is currently on level 4. This was great news; however, a lot of people are still battling with the uncertainty of COVID-19. Anything can happen. And we are still waiting for the peak. So, we are all trying to keep a positive mindset while being at home.
Many of us have been trying to feel positive about staying/working from home in the morning but by the afternoon that motivation is nowhere to be seen. It is also important to try not to think about how long we have been in quarantine. Also try cutting back on constantly checking the rising Covid-19 states, it releases a huge amount of anxiety and is not good for your state of mind.
Looking after yourself and your mental health is a priority. Here are some tips to help us get through:
• Manage expectations, of yourself and others:
Knowing that the mental space that you have is being used up now on other things. For a lot of people, it is trying to understand what is happening around us. Try to accept that and develop a new normal for this situation. Be considerate in terms of productivity for yourself and others.
It is important to understand that everybody is going through something different right now and we all have different levels of stress. Do not expect people to be their best selves right now, have a lot of compassion and understanding.
Take a different route with regards to your productivity, keep it short, work in short breaks, say about 25 minutes’ work, and a five-minute break.
I have also found that giving myself small tasks eases my mind rather than big tasks, this assures me of constant wins. We will need to be consistently winning during this time.
• Maintain a routine
It does not necessarily have to be the same routine you have for work; however, you should aim to wake up and go to bed at approximately the same time each day. This will help to get in sync with your body’s natural rhythms.
• At Home Exercise
Exercise, however, or wherever you can. It will lower your stress levels; help you regulate your emotions and improve your sleep. And by exercise I do not mean anything drastic or time-consuming, a quick 10-minute workout in your living room that requires no equipment is great. It is important to take the opportunity to be active when we can.
Socialise. Maintain and create connections with others, through virtual group chats, WhatsApp video calling with your friends and family, zoom calls, etc. Being able to see your friends and family’s’ faces as you chat will increase your sense of community and genuine connection. This is so important.
• Know your stress signals
If you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, try to understand your warning signs. For me I hold tension in my neck, shoulders, and back, and that is my warning sign. Identify key thoughts, sensations, and actions that contribute to your cycle of distress (frustration, worry, sadness, tension, compulsively checking the latest COVID-19 statistics). Learn to actively relax during this time, take it easy.
• Manage uncertainty by staying in the present
Take each day as it comes. Focus on the things you can control. There is uncertainty because we do not know how long we are going to be here, we don’t know what the impact is going to be, we don’t know how many people are going to be hurt by this. So, there is a level of uncertainty and with uncertainty comes anxiety –that is an illness itself, also what this means for society, jobs, the economy. There is a considerable level of stressors out there that are justifiable and reasonable. We can also often get caught in a state of rumination. The what-if questions come up a lot – what if I get it, what if my father gets. Catch yourself in the act of doing it, and even just simply say stop, do not follow that thought.
Instead, remind yourself that the past is unchangeable, the future unknowable and the only thing we can control is the present.