While our government has taken stringent measures to try and secure our safety and prevent the spread of the virus, it’s left many people in unsettling circumstances.
There is a lot of fear, panic, and anxiety surfacing due to the COVID-19 lockdown, which is understandable. But in our role as wellbeing providers, we want to help guide you to a place of stability and calm. The best approach is one that is practical.
Differentiate between fears and risks of COVID-19
Fear in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is a normal response to a situation such as the one we find ourselves in. Provided that the fear is not controlling or paralysing you, it’s perfectly normal to experience these feelings. Fear could be based on several factors, such as getting sick, losing your job, the failing economy, not being able to leave your home, or being unable to see friends and family members.
Risks associated with COVID-19 are a very real challenge as they deal with the disease directly. The chance of getting sick is the biggest risk, as it could lead to the spread of the disease, severe illness and even death.
There are actions that can be taken to minimise both the fear and risk associated with COVID-19 and viewing the outbreak in this light makes it appear more manageable and easier to overcome.
Actions you can take to minimise FEAR:
• Communicate. Speak to your loved ones at home, or to friends and colleagues online. Create a space where people can share their fears in a non-judgmental environment and propose solutions or different perspectives to those fears.
• Become informed. Understand the facts about COVID-19. There’s a lot of misinformation circulating that is particularly damaging. Choose relevant sources of information and turn to them for news and updates. Assumptions and opinion pieces are not a worthy source of information, as they may not be based on concrete facts.
• Meditate. Meditation helps you understand and notice emotions without becoming consumed by them. It allows you to differentiate between the things you can control and those you can’t. If you haven’t meditated before, start with a simple body scan. Sitting comfortably in an upright position, close your eyes and take three deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling slowly. Mentally scan your body from top to toe paying attention to how each body part feels. Is it cold? Warm? Do you feel pain or discomfort in that area? The point is not to try and fix the pain, but to notice it, be aware, and then shift the focus to the next body part. The act of awareness without becoming immersed in trying to change the feeling is what you are trying to achieve. If you have access to resources online, there are great meditation videos on YouTube and apps you can download to guide you through the process.
• Exercise. Exercising releases endorphins, which have a natural inclination to make you feel good. Regular exercise will help you maintain a positive level of health, which is your best defence against becoming ill. Various platforms online such as Facebook or YouTube offer online exercises you can do. Follow the Fedhealth Medical Scheme Facebook page for #StayInWorkOut and other helpful lockdown ideas!
• Share. When you find factual information about COVID-19 that can help your peers, share it and encourage the spread of relevant, important information. Share your tactics for reducing stress and anxiety with others. If it works for you, it could work for others too. Visit https://www.fedhealth.co.za/medical-aid-questions/coronavirus-faqs for information you can trust.
Actions you can take to minimise RISK:
• Stay home. This message has been clear from the president, health officials and government. Our best defence is to stay home. It’s the easiest and most effective way to reduce risk. If you feel ill and think you might be infected, monitor your wellbeing and visit your healthcare provider only if necessary, to avoid overwhelming the healthcare system or facing genuine infection.
• Stay healthy. Maintaining an optimal state of health is your best defence. Continue to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink loads of fresh water, and exercise regularly. Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol as this can inhibit your immune system at such a critical time.
• Maintain good hygiene. It’s an efficient defence against the spread of the virus and in maintaining personal health and wellbeing. This includes washing hands, but also being aware of touching surfaces, door handles, trolleys and doors when out and about. Use hygienic wipes to wipe down surfaces that might be contaminated and wash your hands after being outdoors.
The best course of action is to remain calm, which can be very difficult when outcomes are so uncertain. We can only deal with the situation one day at a time and should focus on what we can achieve daily, instead of trying to plan for the week or month ahead.
We’re working together to curb the impact and spread of infection and are here to support you. Please contact the Fedhealth Crisis Support Desk on 0860 111 646 if you need additional information, have any concerns, or have questions.
For more information, visit the government official COVID-19 website: www.sacoronavirus.co.za
Resource: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/ ; https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019