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Coping at another level

Moving to another level in lockdown may harness several emotions: turmoil and fear; joy and freedom. Many of us had to muster up the courage and use all or most of our emotional energy to survive through this traumatic period. Many had to deal with feelings of mourning and grief due to the loss of friends and loved ones. South Africa will be moving to Level 2 Lockdown Restrictions on Tuesday 18 August. At the same time, many people became accustomed to spending time (even working) in the comfort of their homes. They might now be anxious about adjusting to their previous normal when returning to work. It may include feelings of fear or excitement.

As regulations are regularly changed or amended, we need to focus on today. Embrace new opportunities and embed positive things that stem out of the steps in moving down another level.

How to cope as lockdown levels are lifted

  • Find routines to continue your daily activities while still practising infection prevention and control principles, i.e. hand-hygiene and universal masking, cleaning and social distancing. 
  • Re-connect with family and friends as safe as possible. At the same time, extra precautions need to be in place for people who fall within the high-risk category for severe illness from COVID-19. Discuss these with your friends and family to ensure that you take the necessary precautions.
  • Look at activities you would love to start doing again and ensure you can do them safely.
  • Establish or review your priorities in life and that what matters the most.

Feelings you might have about the lifting of lockdown

A lot of people might have feelings of relief and excitement about the lockdown being lifted. In contrast, others might feel uncertain or not knowing what lies ahead. Your circumstances and situations influence feelings. 

Here are some of the feelings people might harbour:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Frustration
  • Confusion
  • Grief
  • Not feeling motivated 
  • Mistrust and suspicion

How to cope with these feelings

  • If you have difficulty coping with these feelings, or they are occupying most of your thoughts during the day, try and get support from organisations and professionals that could help you. Engage with your employer to find out about their employee support programmes.
  • Contact and talk to someone that you trust.
  • Try to keep a diary about your feelings.
  • Try to focus on the things that you can change and implement small changes every day.

How to stay healthy, mentally?

You can manage and control your levels of stress and anxiety by:

  • Ensuring you stick to healthy eating habits.
  • Exercise more frequently.
  • Avoiding smoking and limiting your intake of alcohol.
  • Make time to relax and break away.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Practice self-compassion. 
  • Try finding new techniques for relaxation.
  • Be careful of what you give attention to on your phone, laptop or television. Constant reading and consuming updates around COVID-19 via unreliable sources can cause unnecessary stress. Ensure that you get your news from reliable sources that reflect facts, not speculation. Change your routine and restrict the time spent on devices.
  • Sometimes a change of scenery is all we need. There are many ways to get outdoors safely, adhering to the guidelines can still ensure that you can have a good time in our beautiful country.