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Manage your anxiety during the COVID-19 crisis

Medihelp

2020-04-07

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Click here to read more about the COVID-19 virus


In these times of uncertainty, you may experience feelings of anxiety, fear and loneliness. This is to be expected: President Cyril Ramaphosa rightly called the virus an invisible enemy against which a global war is being fought, and fear of the unknown is a natural reaction to the current situation. Not knowing who carriers of the virus are, people are being hypervigilant about others around them, surfaces they’re touching and places they’re going. Witnessing others feeling anxious also compounds feelings of worry, and the constant stream of news reports about the COVID-19 pandemic can further lead to a rise in levels of anxiety.


Concerns about your own health, your loved ones’ health and your job or finances are valid worries for everyone. The time in lockdown can however also be used positively – as a time for self-reflection, career planning, getting creative and spending moments with family members you would otherwise rarely have. Here are a few ways in which you can use this time to stay motivated and reduce anxiety:

1. Declutter your home
One way of putting your time in lockdown to good use is to start a decluttering project. Now is arguably the best time to make your home a better environment in which to live and work, while giving your mental health a boost in the process.
Walk around your home with a pen and paper and identify areas that look cluttered. Include hidden spots such as storage closets and inside cupboards. Begin with one room at a time and set aside a day for each room. Separate the clutter according to items that should be kept, donated and sold.

2. Connect with others
The COVID-19 lockdown is an excellent opportunity to connect with friends and family through calls, texts, WhatsApp messages, email and other digital platforms. This way, you create a sense of togetherness that can help you cope and put a smile on someone else’s face. Try to connect with people you haven’t heard from in a while or people in your community who may be struggling in isolation. The additional time at home can also be a great way to reconnect and strengthen relationships with the immediate family.

3. Stick to a routine
If you are working from home you may be tempted to adopt a more laidback lifestyle, but maintaining your normal routine and sticking to a structure can help to ground you in times of isolation. Get up at the same time each morning and get dressed and ready as if you’re going to work. If you normally eat breakfast at 07:00 and work out in the afternoon, keep doing so. If you have children, draw up a schedule that everyone must stick to and include time for schoolwork, play and rest. This will help to keep you active and make it easier to readjust to the outside world when it’s time to get back to work.

4. Do something good – from a distance
Even if you can’t go out to do charity work, you can still make a meaningful contribution to society from the comfort of your home. The South African Government has launched an initiative which enables you to sponsor food supplies for the less fortunate. If you are aware of anyone who needs assistance during the lockdown, you can phone 0800 428 8364 or email support@gauteng.gov.za to arrange for a food parcel to be delivered to them.

5. Look after your mental health
People living with a mental health condition like depression, anxiety or PTSD may be particularly susceptible to anxiety during this time. It is therefore very important for them to continue their treatment: If possible, fill your prescription for the month and consider home delivery from your local pharmacy. Create an emergency plan if your pandemic concerns become too difficult to manage on your own, such as arranging a telephonic appointment with a mental health professional.
If you feel overwhelmed, you can also contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), who will stay open during the lockdown period to offer support to the public. Phone them on 0800 2122 23 (seven days a week from 08:00 to 20:00) or visit their website at www.sadag.org to find useful online resources such as brochures, articles and self-help videos.

6. Stay informed, but guard against becoming obsessive
It’s vital to stay informed, particularly about what’s happening in your community, but there’s a lot of misinformation and doomsday speculation doing the rounds, so be selective about what you read, watch and share. Consult only trustworthy sources such as the https://sacoronavirus.co.za/ website.
Also limit how often you check for updates and step away from media if you start feeling overwhelmed.

7. Focus on the things you can control
There are too many things that you can’t control, such as the enforcement of the lockdown and how long it will last. Try to focus on the things over which you have control, such as –
• Sticking to the guidelines provided in legislation;
• Not going to the shops unnecessarily;
• Keeping a distance of one meter or more between yourself and others when you’re outside; and
• Maintaining healthy habits such as eating balanced meals and exercising regularly.

You can also follow Medihelp on our social media platforms during this time for useful tips and videos on things you can do and control.

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