Coping with the mental strain of lockdown

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Mom and entrepreneur, Annel Oosthuizen, expressed that besides exercise, helping others has been key to her wellbeing during lockdown.

For many people living in lockdown it has been a stressful and anxiety-inducing experience. This may be because of external factors such as worries over the state of the economy or public health issues, but many times the individual’s inner workings, such as his or her state of mental health, can make or break the often isolating experience of lockdown.

There are effective ways to cope, according to local psychiatrist Katinka Botha, who gives a few tips to make the best of the “new normal”. “At this stage we see a lot of cases of stress, depression and anxiety because people are worried about financial constraints and are feeling cooped up,” she explained.

“Being in the same space all the time can also put strain on relationships, especially when people are not used to it. Although, this should be better as people get to leave home to exercise during Level 4.” The psychiatrist explained that the best way to deal with negative feelings is to identify them. “You have to identify the feelings that you have during these circumstances and realise that you are not alone in feeling this way. There is nothing wrong with you if you feel stressed, depressed or anxious,” she expressed.

Mom and real estate agent, Charlene Botha, said one of the ways to identify emotions is to keep a regular journal of daily life. “To be honest, most days are going quite well but there are days that are filled with emotions. I’m keeping a diary to keep track of my experiences and also excercise to keep the blood pumping. I would say the Bible keeps me going as well as digging into God’s Word as it helps keeping me sane,” she said.

According to psychiatrist Botha, another major stress factor is the denial of current circumstances. This leads to frustration for many. Developing an attitude of gratitude can improve mental health. “We also have to keep in mind that everybody is doing their best by living the ‘new normal’, at least for now. You have to accept that because there’s no point in going against it. What is happening, is out of your hands. When your mind runs away with thoughts of the unfairness of the situation, stop, and realise that this is the ‘new normal’,” is her advice. Local entrepreneur, Annel Oosthuizen, expressed that helping others has been a source of upliftment for herself.

“I try to do something for someone outside of my family at least once a day. It helps to remember that this situation will eventually end but we have to make the best of the present for a better tomorrow.”

Nomaqhawe Mtebele

nomaqhawe@mahareng.co.za