Surviving COVID-19 Lockdown, Mentally and Emotionally
Updated: Mar 25, 2020
The Greatest Battle is often in our own Mind - Practical Tips
Welcome to my new blog. Life, as we've known it, has changed drastically over a very short space of time. Not only locally here in South Africa, but globally. We are now all united in a fight against an invisible enemy.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”—Martin Luther King, Jr.
Take it day by day, if that becomes too overwhelming take it hour by hour. While we all need to consider the future, during a crisis, thinking too far ahead can quickly become too much.
Ensure you maintain a daily routine. Children, especially, feel safer when a routine is in place and it makes one feel more in control of your immediate environment. Get up each day, get dressed, have breakfast together as a family, set a task or goal for the day. Ensure you keep a balance between work and leisure time.
Exercise daily. I can't stress this point enough, exercise is vital for mental and physical well-being.
Retaining a sense of humour is vital. While one needs to be realistic about what is transpiring, a sense of humour takes the edge off. Children pick up quickly on stress and anxiety, limit the amount of talk surrounding the Coronavirus, it can quickly become all that we focus on.
Get creative. We have to find new ways to contact with others, plan birthday parties, keep our kids busy and maintain our sense of purpose. One day can quickly begin to blur into another if there are no clearly defined goals and/or routine. Museums are offering virtual tours, a vast amount of homeschooling resources etc.
Learn a new skill. We often say "if only I had the time to...", well now most of us do. A lot of free courses have been made available during this time.
Set a daily time, where you keep abreast of any news announcements surrounding the virus so that you are still kept informed, but resist the urge to spend hours scrolling through social media posts and news stories.
Limit screen time. As a registered counsellor, who specialises mainly in addictions, I am greatly concerned as to the impact social isolation will have on the amount of time people spend on their devices. We can form an addiction to electronic devices and so time needs to be limited. Get kids to play outside, arrange a camp outdoors (before it starts to get too cold), play board games, build puzzles, bake or simply chat around the dinner table.
Spend time outdoors. Nature has a real soothing effect. in our fast-paced lives we seldom have time to slow down and just to take all the wonders around us in. Get up early one morning and watch the sunrise. Start a veggie patch or plant flowers to bolster your mood.
Keep your immediate environment clean and relatively tidy. This is a major challenge if one has little kids at home all day, but a chaotic environment can add to some people's level of stress and anxiety.
Give yourself a 10 minute "me time" break each day. With everyone home all day, we all need some time just to check in with yourselves and to have a bit of alone time. Take a walk in the garden or have some quiet time in the corner of the garden. Again with small kids, one has to get a bit more creative on how to achieve this.
Stay in touch with others, especially if you live alone. Facetime, send an e-mail or WhatsApp to touch base and to avoid a real sense of isolation sets in. Over the next couple of weeks, I suspect this will start to become more and more of a challenge as restrictions impede social interaction.
Seek professional help if need be. It takes courage to admit we are not coping and reaching out to a professional can help. Many psychologists and counsellors are beginning to make themselves available online for sessions. We are all finding ourselves facing a very abnormal situation and anxiety is a normal reaction to that, but not everyone has a support structure in place and we all need a place to just offload at times.
While this is unchartered territory for all of us, we are not alone in this. Choose to focus on the positive and on what you do have, instead of what you don't have. Be grateful for the small things and this crisis has the potential to bring us all closer together in the long run. As a counsellor and qualified nurse, my passion has always been to assist people during difficult times. Even I find this time challenging and the imposed social isolation makes it more difficult. Be safe, act responsibly, think of others and do what you can. Only when we are thrust from our comfort zones do we grow. Choose to find the beauty in what you have.