Johannesburg: A snap poll across Henley Business School’s social media community hints that South Africans are becoming pandemic fatigued. As the country returned to an adjusted Level 4 lockdown this week, the dipstick may indicate a greater social and economic hangover that could last beyond Covid-19 says Henley Dean Jon Foster-Pedley.
“It’s been a challenging year-and-some, what with the isolation of lockdowns, the inconvenience but essential nature of masking and the various Covid conventions that have made life vastly different from what we were used to, inconvenient and stressful. It is no wonder, then, that many of us are suffering from what psychologists are labelling “pandemic fatigue”. We just “don’t want to know about it” anymore. Foster-Pedley is participating in this year’s HR Indaba to debate and seek possible outcomes to address pandemic fatigue in the workplace, socially and economically.
Foster-Pedley says that there are some, what he calls, rules of thumb that may soften the sustained onslaught that Covid has served up.
1. Acceptance and moving forward
It is important to be able to let go. There are things in our lives and environment over which we have little or no control, and this was even true before Covid 19. We must realise that being anxious about these factors will do nothing to resolve them, and simply impact on our well-being. Unpleasant emotions also have the effect of turning us in towards ourselves; of making us feel alone in our despair. We need to be aware that these anxieties that we currently have, are not unique to us, but are shared by many. It can be comforting to know that our peers may also be in that same uncertain space and, if we reach out to help others who are in a similar or worse position, this can have a very positive effect on our sense of security and self.
2. Be cautious around social media
Doom scrolling on social media can deliver a negative impact. Dwelling in a world of angry and fearful social media can only compound one’s sense of helplessness and depression. When going online, we should make a conscious effort to visit sites – or communicate with people – who will educate, entertain, and otherwise uplift or inspire us.
3. Get Moving
Physical activity has been proven, in numerous studies, to be a mood-enhancer. If prevailing laws permit us to get to a gym, then we should not let our memberships lapse. But gym is not the only exercise in town. Sit-ups, press-ups, squats, or any other kind of exercise, can be squeezed into our daily routine, and it does not even have to be at particular times, or with a prescribed number of repetitions. In other words, it should not feel as though we are in boot camp.
4. Take time to be kind yourself
Treat yourself to a warm bath, sunbathe for 15 minutes, or take in a chapter of a book under an umbrella. Current conditions around us are unpleasant, there is no doubting it, so the last thing we need do is be unkind and punishing to ourselves. Of course, these pampering activities should not be used as tools of procrastination: We should first discharge our duties to ourselves, family and work, and then treat ourselves, without any guilt or anxiety. Afford yourself those pockets of relaxation and joy.
5. Centre yourself
We have often heard people say, “Take a deep breath and calm down”, and the instruction is sometimes used to embarrass and belittle. The truth, however, is that deep breathing is very healing, and eases one out of anxiety, or even panic. It will also help you to centre yourself, and “get comfortable in your skin”. This can be done in conjunction with meditation, and yes; that very term is often off-putting for many people, as it conjures up images of esoteric and “weird” activities. However, it is just the simple practice of emptying one’s mind from the frenetic clutter of daily logistics and worries. Take the time out to vacate your mind of the grocery list, the conflict you are having with a colleague, and the tuition fees at your child’s college. Just find something to focus your attention on, such as a flower or candle flame, and let all that relentless mental traffic take a back seat.
Perhaps the most important take-away here, is that yes; these are difficult and unusual times in which we find ourselves. The decision that we must take is whether we are going to let our anxieties sit within us and fester or allow them to flow through us. As wise men have said, “This too shall pass.”