IIG News

Guarding our mental health is crucial – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic

When the World Health Organization (WHO) reported an outbreak with a cluster of pneumonia cases of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)  in Wuhan City, China on the 31 December 2019 – it set the stage for what would be one of the biggest adjustments the world would witness in our lifetime. SARS-CoV-2 was confirmed to be what we now commonly refer to as COVID-19, and it has spread to over 100 countries around the world, South Africa being one of them.

This pandemic is understandably anxiety-inducing, because it has forced many citizens of the world into a war against an invisible enemy, and with no clear indication as to when we will emerge victorious. The one thing that is undeniable about the COVID-19 is that it has disrupted our daily routines and altered life as we know it. There are no concerts, no live sporting activities to attend or church gatherings to revive the soul. What does this mean for those who are heavily reliant on structure and routine for their wellbeing?

Mental health issues are silent killers during this period where many feel isolated due to a lack of human contact and then anxiety kicks in. But what does one do to alleviate the pressure and continue to create a sense of livelihood? Now more than ever, to deal with the anxiety and uncertainty – it is important that we keep encouraging each other, particularly in the insurance sector, to remain positive and channel our thoughts towards being productive, so that when a sense of normalcy returns, we are able to function and not be a danger to ourselves or fellow colleagues.


Tips on how to keep mentally fit during the lockdown

With many people in our sector working from home, it’s imperative to structure your mind into work mode. Wake up at a particular hour, shower or bath, eat a decent breakfast and set up a workstation. What has been evident during the lockdown, is that there has been increased productivity from employees working from home and the above-mentioned could be one of the reasons why.

The danger in being home however, are the frequent walks to the fridge or kitchen that are contributing factors to an unhealthy lifestyle. So healthy choices are encouraged as well as hydration. Water is vital to flush out the system and employees are encouraged to keep a water bottle by their workstations to sip on as they work.

Another important aspect is to exercise. Studies have shown that exercising for 20 minutes a day releases endorphins. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention states that outbreaks such as the COVID-19 pandemic currently usurping the world can be stressful and impact sleeping patterns as well. Hence, I encourage a daily exercise routine to help combat insomnia and to ensure that one wakes up rejuvenated and ready to tackle the new day.

It’s imperative to maintain contact with the outside world. Check on friends, family, colleagues and church mates. The virus will be a thing of the past only if we continue to work together with our country and adhere to the lockdown regulations.

And lastly, I suggest we keep our own paradigms in check. In her article in the Financial Times on 03 April 2020 reflecting on the COVID-19 pandemic, the social activist and author – Arundhati Roy said: “Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”

I was encouraged by these words as I imagined the new world. I am ready to fight for this new world by maintaining mental fitness and a positive perspective. Let us continue to guard our mental health – it is crucial for today and the future we imagine.

By Tshepiso Chocho

Tshepiso Chocho is the Executive Manager for People Management at Sasria