We have a long road to travel, but there are many things we can do for ourselves and for one another to get through the next phase of this pandemic.
Johannesburg, South Africa (18 January 2021) – It is January 2021 – a time when we should be filled with hope, new opportunities and enthusiasm to tackle the year ahead with everything we’ve got. But many of us are not feeling this way. We’re struggling with anxiety, depression, anger and hopelessness.
My timelines are filled with so much sadness, and heartbreak and people left behind trying to pick up the pieces because Covid-19 is affecting us all, and the numbers have become names.
However, there is always hope. Good things are all around us if we’re just willing to look. I’m constantly amazed at the level of kindness, love and support that is displayed between strangers, whether it’s online or in a real-life situation – please know that you are not alone.
Staying socially connected during a crisis like this is vital for your mental health as is setting a routine that you can stick to throughout the day. Set aside structured time for work, exercise, listening to podcasts or cleaning the house.
People are angry, mean and mentally unravelling. Coronavirus is a massive trauma; a trauma that everyone is dealing with in their own way. And loads of people are scared, so they are trying to create ideas that can give them something to hold on to, so please be kinder.
We have a long road to travel, but there are many things we can do for ourselves and for one another to get through the next phase of this pandemic. For example, get out into the garden or start a new hobby. Take time out and read more books – reading engages the brain, improves our vocabulary, and so much more.
Self-care is a real thing – if you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a few hours or take the day to get stuck into that series or movie you’ve been putting off. Go for a walk. Switching off for a while is okay, as is taking a break from social media which can be extremely toxic.
There is something to be said about gaming, and I’m loving spending some “me time” on my PlayStation. If you enjoy that too, I suggest you get stuck into that – better yet, organise an online game with a few friends. I guarantee it will lift your spirits.
Exercise is another underutilised form of “therapy”, to keep your endorphins or feel-good hormones elevated. Moving your body for just 20 minutes a day will have a great impact on your ability to manage stress and anxiety. While I might not be a doctor, I know how good I feel when I‘m done. Besides, there are many health articles expounding these virtues.
As mentioned earlier, staying socially connected is important. Stay in touch with friends and family. Whether it’s spontaneous or scheduled, call or message the people in your life, let them know you’re there. And if it’s you in need of some love then let people know. As the song by Marshmello and Demi Lovato goes, “It’s okay to not be okay”, and it really is.
It’s also important to focus on what you can control – you can control your responses to a situation, to conversations, to the food you put in your body and the way you carry yourself. A positive and healthy mindset will go a long way in elevating your mood and general outlook on life. Be patient with yourself; it’s natural not to know how to feel or react to situations we’re not used to.
Accepting this will help us all reach the other side. Reach out to someone if you need to. Be kind to one another. Be kind to yourself.