On Saturday night, our President gave us the news we have all been yearning to hear: We are moving into Level 2 Lockdown from midnight tonight! Instead of feeling happy, excited, and relieved… I felt… the same. And then I started to feel disappointed at the anticlimactic emotion I was feeling. Feel similar? Let us unpack these emotions.
When I write, there is a noticeably clear vision I have: my content needs to be informative, empowering and uplifting. It should absolutely steer away from being vulnerable, depressing, or hopeless. So bear with me as I try really hard to strike a balance between being transparent, and as helpful as possible.
As a Health Professional and Coach, we are taught numerous tactics, but one of our key competencies is the capacity to empathise. We need to not only understand a client’s plight, but be overly cautious to project our own judgements or frame of references when listening to someone else’s perspective on things.
With that being said, I wholeheartedly EMPATHISE with Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa. I cannot imagine the weight he must carry on his shoulders. He has a team of experts and advisors who likely offer conflicting advice. He has a political party, whom many have shown to demonstrate their own agendas. And then of course he has the South African people – some who came out in full support of him at the beginning of lockdown. However, growing numbers of people are now voicing their disdain in the actions that have been taken that have compromised our economy severely.
At the end of the day, we all have our own (valid) opinions, and in the interest of staying away from a political debate, we are not going to unpack opinion. However, let us consider the facts on the table:
From a more qualitative perspective, one simply needs to look around to observe the evidence of this catastrophic year. Walking around the malls, you are met with shops which have closed down. Driving the streets, I am seeing more beggars than ever before. Clients, friends, and family members have become ill (non-Covid related) due to what I believe are stress related conditions.
On top of all of this, we still have the fear of catching the dreaded Corona Virus, or suffering the loss of someone close to us if it infects them (or perhaps we are already in mourning, having lost a loved one).
Then it made sense to me why the announcement of Level 2 Lockdown did not have me leaping for joy. The news of being able to visit family reminded me that we still cannot embrace them as we did before. A return to the gym will demonstrate the incredible weight I have gained. To purchase alcohol, cigarettes, or book for a holiday in another province reminded me that to do those things – you need to be earning an income. And for so many of us, earning a living has either been taken away, or impacted in some way or the other.
No wonder we are feeling increasingly hopeless, despondent, and disillusioned about the future.
So what can we do?
In the spirit of finding solutions instead of wallowing in our problems, we CAN make a few small changes.
1. Adopt an Internal Locus of Control
Accepting an external locus of control is encompassing a belief system that you are ultimately out of control of your life. Successes or hardships are attributed to ‘bad luck’, circumstances, other people, prejudice, fate, or injustice.
If you believe that the virus and subsequent has ruined your life because you have lost your job, then that belief will become your reality. Instead, realise that you have lost work temporarily, but have the competence to find work again.
Being thankful has massive psychological and physiological benefits. By taking the time to appreciate things, one is likely to experience more positive emotions, enjoy better quality sleep, feel more compassion and express kindness, and even have healthier immune systems.
Our current pandemic may have robbed you of so much. But it may have conversely given you something in return. Loosing your job may make you money-poor, but time-rich. You may have the opportunity to really strategize your career plan – something you did not have before.
Try and consider what you have gained, instead of what you have lost.
There is a reason why talk therapy is so beneficial. If you can, talk to a therapist or similar professional. But there is nothing wrong with connecting with a friend or family member, and really express how you are feeling.
Realising that you are not alone in your emotions is the first step in feeling less isolated. Talking through your emotions are also a healthier alternative than trying to bypass your feelings, ignoring them, and having to deal with the manifestation of physical ailments later.
Try to plan that holiday now that domestic travel has been allowed. Plan a get together with friends, or a dinner for a special upcoming occasion. Of course we know that just because lockdown has been relaxed, the virus is still very much real and rife, and we should still precautions. But planning to see loved ones, or a vacation gives us a goal to work towards, and something to look forward to. Our brains respond incredibly well to reward.
5. Be part of the solution
Challenge yourself to think of ways to be a part of the collective solution to the crisis.
If you have recovered from Covid-19, consider donating your plasma (much like donating blood) to assist with convalescent plasma research, which could potentially save lives.
Only consume and / or share credible news sources about C-19.
Look at how you can use your skills to uplift your community. If you’re a school-teacher, do a live video recording on social media regarding fun activities for the kids at home. If you’re a psychologist, write content around dealing with stress amid the current pandemic. Entrepreneur? Offer to do a webinar on how being retrenched may be the PERFECT opportunity to start that business.
Seeking remedies will strengthen the neural networks in your brain to always default to seeking-solutions when things go wrong.
Remember! If you feel you are not coping, please reach out to your local GP, or call SADAG on 0800 56 789.
We are all in this together – in some shape or form.
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