Ideas to combat stress and anxiety induced by COVID
Stress, anxiety and depression are issues that most of us will experience at some point in our lives. A Covid 19 pandemic with soaring global mortality rates and lockdowns is a new and harrowing experience that can drive normal feelings of anxiety and stress to a totally different level with the potential to seriously impact our mental and physical health. SADAG the country’s largest mental health advocacy group field on average 600 calls a day, post lockdown these numbers have doubled and in an online survey conducted by them, most people reported feeling higher levels of stress.
Almost overnight, the world we all knew has changed significantly. Compounding this, we are being bombarded almost incessantly with information from all sides including conspiracy theorists who will explain lockdown as a “greater plan for to take over the world” to those deathly pessimists happy to remind us that the end of the world is nigh. Somewhere in the midst of this is a not very clear semblance of truth, and it is on this that we need to focus our thoughts and energies dismissing those extreme views that frankly would push us over the brink.
What we all know with some certainty, is that the stress will still be with us tomorrow and that as individuals we need to build and develop coping mechanisms that will allow us to come through this both sane and healthy – The World Health Organisation says “This is not a Sprint but a Marathon”
As a start the following points are generally seen as the cause of most Covid19 stress related issues:
• We are worried about contracting the virus.
• We are worried about our families; children; parents & friends.
• Will I lose my Job?
• Will my employer pay me?
• How will I support my family; pay for the Car; rent / mortgage?
• Will I receive and financial assistance eg UIF benefits and if so for how long?
• Will this ever end?
Whilst we all need to take responsibility for managing individual health, mental and physical, our employers where applicable also have an important role to play in helping employers through a difficult and unparalleled time in our history. Clearly one cannot generalise and whilst there are no doubt innumerable companies providing financial and medical support for employees, there are many who are not doing either.
There is no clear cut foolproof solution to negate the additional stresses that we are all experiencing, but taking ownership and applying the following simple guidelines will certainly help: -
Working from home routine is a key factor and allowing oneself to slide into a Pyjama holiday mode waking at 10:00 is a recipe for disaster. Follow a routine as if you were going to the office keeping clear distinctions between work and non-work activities. This is the perfect time to practice an integrated work / life balance
Communication- Social connection vs Isolation
We all have a need to belong - Stay in touch with family, friends and colleagues and do not be afraid to reach out for help.
Self care & exercise
Focus on a healthy diet - Physical exercise is as important as mental exercise
Sleep and relaxation
Deep breathing exercises and other types of relaxation techniques- Be mindful of over-stimulation from TV, cell-phones, computers, etc
Wash/sanitize your hands frequently and do not touch your face. Wear a mask to protect others and yourself from droplets. Stay at home when you are sick. Regularly clean and disinfect objects or surfaces in your house.
By implementing some simple, stress and anxiety coping mechanisms in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.