“What I’ve Learnt In Lockdown Is That It’s Really Important To ‘Feel’ Every Emotion”
The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) conducted a survey on Mental Health during the life and times of COVID-19 to understand how people are managing during the lockdown. The survey asked participants about their home life, their mental health before and during the lockdown, and what coping tips helped them to manage their mental health during the lockdown.
During this time, many of us may have really good days and other days may be the pits, but you know what I’ve learnt during this lockdown? I’ve learnt that every emotion is valid. During a lockdown, it’s normal to get emotional over things that may seem small. We’re confined to our homes and not living life to our full potential as we used. You may even find yourself crying out of the blue. This is normal — especially when you’re trying to adjust to a new normal.
SADAG says they’ve received more calls since the start of lockdown from people feeling anxious, lonely, worried and depressed. Many callers are stressed about a combination of issues, including the spread of COVID-19, finances, relationship problems, job security, grief, gender-based violence and trauma.
Here are a few things to keep in mind next time your emotions overwhelm you…
Still adjusting to working from home? It’s okay…
Clinical Psychologist Dr Sherona Rawat says it’s important to keep a schedule, even if you’re working from home. “Time should be set aside for yourself, family, leisure, errands, chores and work. By doing this, you gain a sense of control over your environment,” she says. When you gain control over your environment, you become empowered.
Once you feel empowered, this results in a reduced likelihood of a depressed mood or high anxiety levels. “Exploration of your feelings can be explored during self-time, using reflection and retrospection, relaxing with a cup of tea or meditating. Exploration of feelings can also become a family event whereby everyone allocates a certain time during the day to spend together talking about their feelings, frustrations and flounders. In this way, your feelings are not avoided and repressed, but rather given an opportunity to be resolved,” says Dr Rawat.
Techniques for relaxation and self-soothing
Techniques for relaxation and self-soothing is anything that requires focused attention and/or physical activity. The most important thing is to find a technique that suits your personality and circumstance. Choose something convenient for you that will feel like a reward rather than another burden, says Dr Rawat. “Try not to do what you think others may find impressive, but rather what you find soothing. Planning and preparation are important in nipping an anxiety attack in the bud,” she adds.
Techniques that can be used:
- Breathing exercises
- Mindfulness exercises
- Colouring in
The downfall of not acknowledging our emotions
“Emotions that are not dealt with become repressed and add to your emotional burden. Once that burden becomes too large to manage on an internal level, it begins to negatively influence the functioning of one’s mind and body,” says Dr Rawat. Ignoring or avoiding our emotions have short-term as well as long-term ramifications for us as individuals, which could potentially affect our families as well.