Your days under lockdown may be an emotional rollercoaster filled with bouts of anxiety, sadness, frustration and even guilt. With our freedom of movement removed from us and uncertainty about the duration and impact of the Coronavirus, it is to be expected that most people will be sitting with feelings of loss and even grief. Grief, not only for those directly affected by Coronavirus, but also for the life society shared before this global pandemic ripped all normality and left a sense of instability in its path.

Anxiety

This emotion escalates when we feel a lack of control over our lives and when we feel under-resourced to manage the challenges our daily life presents. The thoughts and feelings attached to this unpredictable situation can trigger certain behaviours as a means to soothe this discomfort, however, one needs to recognise these unhealthy responses and find healthier alternatives to manage this unnatural situation we find ourselves in. So the focus needs to be on what we do have control over:

  • Create a daily routine and structure to your day where you have allocated time for work, exercise (e.g. a walk or yoga) and play.
  • Your weekdays and weekends need to have a differentiation, where the uneventful becomes an event e.g. creating special family mealtimes and connecting with friends and family via FaceTime or Skype.
  • Use relaxation and visualisation to work through periods of anxiety. There are lots of guided meditation and relaxation techniques available online. Learning to use this coping strategy is a tool that will be a lifelong asset to you.
  • Limit or avoid news feeds and social media which you find fuel your anxiety.

Sadness

Often an emotion that accompanies anxiety; sadness in a time of such loss is inevitable. However, when this develops into depression and affects your ability to function and perform your everyday tasks, one needs to seek professional assistance.

  • Recognise the signs of clinical depression and contact a Psychologist for online therapy if necessary.
  • It has been well documented that yoga reduces depression, so use online resources to do a couple of minutes of yoga daily.
  • Connect with others digitally to share your experiences as social distancing can have a negative effect on one’s mood.
  • Start a hobby you never had the chance to get to before, such as photography, reading, writing or gardening. If there are constraints to your hobby of interest, begin researching the hobby so that the groundwork is laid for when lockdown and social distancing ends.

Frustration

There are numerous factors that can contribute to this emotion, such as the challenges of schooling and managing your children, juggling new work commitments with tasks at home, and marriage or relationship problems.

  • Use this time to address underlying issues within your relationship through effective communication and seek online professional help if necessary.
  • Respect the challenges each family member experiences and provide support and space where appropriate.
  • Become aware of your own outbursts and acknowledge the true source of your frustration. Unfortunately our frustration is often projected onto those closest to us and this negatively affects our relationships.

Guilt

It requires a huge adjustment to settle into this new pace and rhythm of daily life, which is completely different to our norm. We are accustomed to rushing from one meeting to another or playing taxi driver the entire afternoon, so the limits on our movement present a foreign way of being . This can bring up a sense of guilt, as we tend to equate ‘busyness’ with productiveness and stillness is not an easy mode to accept, hence the challenge of meditation.

  • Recognise and block negative thoughts that move you away from the present e.g. “How will this work be caught up later?”.
  • Use internal dialogue to reinforce the importance of remaining in the present e.g. “This is where I need to be right now and I’m doing ok”.
  • Start using deep breathing and meditation as a means to let go and create calmness in your thoughts.

This is a complicated time in our history which challenges us all. The reality is that we are globally connected and interdependent; so we all need to play our part in order to overcome this. It calls for a period of reflection and change. The choice of response is yours… Do you spend your days depressed dwelling in your dwellings, or do you take command over your camp and choose to fill your days constructively by nurturing your health and the relationships you value most?