Covid-19 third wave: 7 tips to survive the next few days
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South Africa is in the middle of a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, and while the infection rate and death toll makes the physical impact painfully obvious, many people are facing a silent mental health crisis.
The civil unrest that has gripped parts of the country has added significantly to the mental trauma of many citizens.
South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) operations director Cassey Chambers told the Weekend Argus that they had noted an influx of calls from people who have been directly affected by the looting and violence happening across the country.
“People that are reaching out this week are really just desperate. They are not coping, they feel overwhelmed and their anxiety or depression has been triggered, so they are reaching out for further help,” Chambers said.
Psychologist and writer Yasmeen Engelbrecht has compiled a list of practical tips to help people navigate the mental trauma of the third wave.
“Please understand you are now a victim of trauma. If our fight/flight response doesn’t down-regulate soon, our immune systems are going to take a severe knock… and in the time of Covid,” she cautions.
Yasmeen’s 7 Dos & Don’ts for the next few days:
1. Disengage “Rambo Mode”- We have to stay vigilant, but we have to start adjusting the level. We cannot stay in this hyper-aroused state; the body will eventually crack. So, put away the phone for blocks of time, hide it from yourself if you have to. If you have a partner split the time spent on the phone checking for latest developments. Each time you read something anxiety-provoking, the body is being hyped up.
2. TV viewing - Avoid action or horror movies for the next few days. Don't retraumatise yourself. Watch comedies or light-hearted stuff.
3. No strenuous exercise - Our hearts have been taxed enough. So do light stretching, super light workouts, gentle walks, etc for the next few days. Remember, trauma cannot be dealt with cognitively; it sits in the body. So breath work is super important. Also consider chi qong, yin yoga etc; these methods engage the parasympathetic nervous system which is super important right now. Remember the body doesn’t give way during the fight - it gives way as we begin to normalise, which is now!!
4. Retake control of your world - We were helpless; we are not any more. Signal this shift to your brain. Clean your house like you would if potential buyers were coming to view it. Get back into your routine, get outside, walk around your complex. Play your favourite songs and sing along.
5. If you are a meditator - Consider doing light body work, stretching before sitting for your meditation; the mind is way too engaged/hyped up to go directly into meditation.
6. Allow yourself at LEAST one good cry - Save on future health costs, do the breath and body work now, and if tears come up (and they will if you going deep and slow enough), please allow them. Remember what we can handle intellectually far outstrips what we can emotionally. You are now a victim of trauma, treat yourself as such, treat yourself with kit gloves.
7. Up the immune boosters - Double your take of Vitamin C (the wonder drug) for the next few days. If you have Echinoforce, go for a prophylactic approach. Up the magnesium intake and take it at night to calm the body and induce sleep. Shout out to our warriors, our patrols groups. Guys, please consider steaming when you get home.
* Yasmeen Engelbrecht is a psychologist, coach and creator of "The Path of Authentic Desire — 7 Steps to Getting What You Want and going to the end of Who You Are."