Over the past few weeks, concerns have doubled if not tripled over the spread of Covid-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. As the number of cases rise globally and in South Africa, lives of citizens have been turned upside down. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced earlier that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country has risen to 709. President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a 21 day lock down will come into effect on Friday morning to ‘flatten the curve’ of Covid-19.
With a lockdown approaching and the numbers increasing so rapidly it can be difficult to remain mentally stable. However, Psychologist at Akeso Kenilworth, Mark de la Ray said it is normal to be feeling overwhelmed.
“For those of us who are taking it seriously, there will be a sense of being overwhelmed”, said de la Ray.
de la Ray suggested that now is the time to come together as a community and unite behind one another.
“Do not think that sitting silently in your homes is going to help,” reiterated de la Ray.
de la Ray suggested that with anxiety people are most likely to act in one of two ways.
“One is they withdraw because they so anxious they do not want to interact with anything or anyone, and then obviously some people overreact due to their anxiety, so they will act out in defiance and after a few days of being in lockdown will go out,” warned de la Ray
de la Ray warned that anxiety can lead to depression.
“That is a very reasonable response to the kind of severity we’re facing,” de la Ray said it is unfair to judge people that are panic buying because it is a reflex of anxiety and boiled down to wanting to be in control during this frightening time.
de la Ray assured citizens that now is the time to keep things light hearted,
“We need to keep our sense humor.”
However, de la Ray said there is a difference between keeping things light and making irresponsible jokes. It is important to keep the mood jovial especially with children and elderly as it may be a challenge for them to come to terms with what is happening around them and to verbalize their emotions.
de la Ray advised that families revert back to ‘the old days’ of spending time with family members without the use of technological advances. de la Ray warned that too much screen time tracking Covid-19 updates could lead to an increase in anxiety.
“Don’t over focus on it,” de la Ray advised.
“Play card games, checkers, dominos and if you are lucky enough to have a garden space then at least go out and walk in your garden a couple of times a day,” urged de la Ray.
However, It is pivotal to keep the vulnerable informed so they can remain grounded, and aware.
“Although we should be balanced in what we tell them, we all should not be telling them fairytales. Be factual,” said de la Ray.
“Just be there,” encouraged de la Ray to parents of children who are withdrawing and finding it difficult to articulate their feelings.
“Staying cooped up and not doing anything is going to cause more anxiety, and more problems,” ended de la Ray.