The News and your social media newsfeeds are probably filled with the latest stats on C-19, alongside the growing worry around the economic damage that our current set of circumstances is causing.
However, little attention is being paid to the psycho-social impact of the 2020 Corona Virus and subsequent draconian lockdown. Research is showing us that the increase in anxiety and depression is mounting. We simply have to look at the stats from Lifeline and SADAG (South African Depression and Anxiety Group), which have observed a 50% increase in calls to their respective crisis lines.
According to neuro-scientific research, we are collectively starting to mimic the psychological effects of isolation and confinement seen in Antarctica, known as Winter-Over Syndrome. The condition presents with various symptoms, including depression, insomnia, anger or irritability, feelings of hostility toward those around you, compromised cognitive performance including difficulty in concentration and memory, absentmindedness, and ‘zoning out’ for periods of time.
Almost counter-intuitively, we are observing high-performance in the economically active population in South Africa. We can hypothesise that this is owed to various factors, one of which is working from home. No more driving to the office, quick lunches with your colleagues or chats at the coffee machine to eat up your time. However, those chunks of break-away times were so healthy for our psychological functioning. Moreover, many professionals are now blurring the lines between work and home, as the two environments have now become one.
We can also hypothesise that fear and panic is driving our collective performance, as we are privy to daily numbers of retrenchments of tens of thousands of professionals. Our colleagues. Our friends. Our family.
Our demand to deliver is at the highest it has ever been. Business is demanding MORE from us, with FASTER turn-around times, at a LOWER salary. Not surprisingly, the future trends are looking concerning. Human beings are, after all, human. The high performance we are seeing currently is bound to show a significant dip. And soon. You simply have to ask yourself if you are feeling an increase in irritability, lack of concentration or hostility, and your answers will demonstrate what’s coming: a psychological lockdown. Truthfully, we don’t even know what the medium to long term psychological impact will be owed to Covid-19 and our current lockdown ripple effect – in South Africa, and globally. Only time and research will tell, but it does not take an expert to know that things are very, very serious.
What can you do to avoid the imminent psychological lockdown?
Realise that this current life is not your forever life. This is a transient period, and you have the power of choice with regards to how you are going to manage it. Similarly to those in the Antarctic who suffer Winter-Over Syndrome, some use the time to self-reflect.
Try to see the positive collateral you have at this moment in time. Perhaps you have the stress of home-schooling, but it is also a time in your life you get to play an active part of your child’s formative years.
Perhaps you miss the company of your colleagues, but think of the blessing of not having to face long commutes to the office if you are working from home.
Emotional Intelligence is your secret weapon
EQ is said to not only be the best precursor for job success, but growing your Emotional Intelligence will buffer you against the challenges our current circumstances have thrown at us. Increasing your EQ will not only grow your understanding of yourself and others, but can improve resilience, motivation, and various coping mechanisms.
Having knowledge of EQ is not correlated to actually being Emotionally Intelligent. In fact, we all have room to grow. If you are interested in joining in a free 30 day challenge then click here.
If you are a decision-maker at your business, and YOU recognise the need to buffer your talent (and business) against the imminent psychological lockdown, then get in touch with us to see how we can support you: email@example.com or call us on 010 312 6790.
There are loads of resources available to assist in these incredibly challenging times. But, if you feel you are not coping, you are urged to reach out to organisations such as Lifeline, or SADAG, or your GP. Your organisation may have also made provision for you, and if you have access to a mentor or coach, reach out to them.
Our contributors collectively boast a wealth of experience in assessments, HR, organisational development, change management and more!