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Mental tenacity vital in lockdown

Lockdown can be mentally exhausting, particularly if you are an essential worker. PHOTO/STOCK.ADOBE.COM

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The covid-19 lockdown has challenged people in ways that could not be anticipated; be it physically, mentally, emotionally, or financially – everyone is affected.

Wairarapa psychologist Ivor de Vries said people prone to certain traits or challenges before the lockdown might see an increase in anxiety, depression, and increased frustration and irritability.

“People who generally have been relatively independent, self-reliant, and well-resourced are likely to be managing fairly well.”

He advised people to “maintain a balanced routine for yourself, children, and family members, including making time for fun, connecting with others, relaxation, work, running the household, and learning new skills or hobbies”.

Taking time to absorb information thoroughly was useful, he said.

So was making “smart and insightful choices”, when it came to solving problems.

Limiting negative media exposure could help with reducing anxiety, and talking through problems with trusted people was valuable.

Still, he cautioned that people should be careful not to do so in the presence of children, as stress might impact them and exacerbate their concerns.

Sleep plays a big role in determining people’s mood, and de Vries said “we need to self-check we’re getting enough”.

Being respectful of each other during the lockdown was also a good way to decrease stress levels and cope better.

People should practise “kindness and understanding” at this time, which would help people adjust to their new “normal”.

Learning to live together without allowing each other’s habits to become annoying, would make it easier on people sharing a bubble.

It is a good idea, according to de Vries, to focus on “the positives that you may be overlooking, and this will help to boost your mood”.

There are many government agencies and helplines to turn to for advice, and friends and family can often offer helpful suggestions.

It is especially important to recognise this and ask for help.

He praised the government for keeping people informed, and updating news of the lockdown and the effects of the coronavirus, and in this way keeping people’s expectations realistic.

He said people needed to take care of more vulnerable people by keeping in contact and offering to assist them with shopping, or stacking firewood, reaching out to them, while still obeying the lockdown rules.

The people most at risk would be those “who have lost employment or job security, people who have significant health or mental health conditions, people who struggle with marginalisation and/or are on the poverty line, parents who struggled in their relationship with their children, people at risk of domestic violence and generally anyone for whom life has changed dramatically during the lockdown”.

Financially hard-hit people would be in need of good information and clarity of thought.

Stressing that he was not a financial expert, de Vries advised anyone with serious problems to talk to their families, do some research, get proper advice, and discuss potential problems with their banks.

“List your challenges in rank of priority and start working on the ones you can address now.”
Showing our appreciation to the essential workers who are keeping our healthcare and other systems running while we are on lockdown, was vital.

“We are currently considered to be ranked third in the world for our safety and success against covid-19, and we wouldn’t be able to do it without these essential workers,” he said.

“All human beings have the inherent ability to be positive, caring, creative and adaptable to changes.

“Try to be the best person you are capable of being in any given moment, recognising that your capacity may vary on some days compared to other days.”

People can free call or text 1737 at any time to speak with a trained counsellor – it’s free and confidential.

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