BAU: When life is anything but

It’s no doubt that COVID-19 has inflicted more than just a biological impact, but a mental one too; even for those who haven’t been directly impacted by the virus. While some of us continue the fight against COVID-19 biologically, others are struggling to cope with the mental anxieties associated with the “business as usual lifestyle”. Having to work effectively through a pandemic, produce better if not the same quality of output and sustain a new and adapted version of a healthy lifestyle, all of which was second nature to most of us, have now become elements that we consciously must remind ourselves to be better at. So, while some of us are not directly impacted by COVID-19, we all are in one way or another, having to adapt, evolve and circumnavigate an invisible being that is so unfamiliar, destructive, and larger than life. And yes this has, whether we like it or not, played on our mental states from the beginning – for some, to a greater extent than others. So while it might feel like there’s no relief in sight, there is; and it’s important that as friends, family, peers and as a community that we continue to support those around us. Because history has shown, that as a collective, we are one, big powerful force that is worth this fight.

I guess I could only speak for my own experience. Having been lucky enough to keep my job, and still have the same co-workers around is not something we all could say continues to be the case during this time. My place of work has been supportive (as always) of the times, situations and of personal responsibilities we all have as employees, members of families and as individuals. And for that I’m more than grateful that an organisation can still continue to be protective and caring of their staff even through these challenging times. Afterall, we pride ourselves in being able to look after each other, as any strong family would. So personally, I feel comfortable with where I am even in these unusual times. But it’s important to realise that not everybody in this situation would feel the same.

For many in a similar situation to myself, feeling an overwhelming sense of unease could be one of the many effects felt by COVID-19. And for the most part, I can understand how this feeling might almost feel unwarranted when you are one of the ‘lucky’ ones. But this so called ‘unwarranted’ feeling is shared among the community and the truth is, this feeling is completely warranted. In addition to the fear of contracting COVID-19 is the extraordinary new realities that we’ve had to adapt to. I’d say the inability for some of us to effectively adapt to these new realities to the extent we perhaps thought we’d be able to is because historically, we’ve never been in such a demanding situation. Most of us, have grown up living the perfect life in a clean and safe country, with access to food, shelter and safety, with great weather and without threat to our borders or lives for that matter. So COVID-19 has surely thrown a spanner in the works. The effects of working from home, temporary unemployment, social distancing and home-schooling children, all definitely contribute to our mental and emotional stability. And the effects of this new reality can be seen through greater levels of stress, anxiety, and uncertainty within us. And it’s fine to feel this way, because the times demand it.

But what’s more important is that we recognise this and take the necessary steps to overcome it, because while the times are uncertain, we will see it to the end. With mental health month now upon us, there’s no better time for us to make bettering our state of mind a priority not only for ourselves, but for those who truly care and love us. There are many ways that we can improve our mental health, from reaching out to professional help, confiding in close friends or family, taking up hobbies or by simply acknowledging how you’re feeling. In doing so, it might be surprising how many people you will encounter that feel exactly the same way, and how much you can help yourself and others get through these times.

So just because you are one of the ‘lucky’ ones, it’s normal to feel these COVID blues and there are many people out there feeling the same way. Just remember that there is hope in this moment of quiet and with the last of 2020’s festive seasons approaching us, take this moment between now and then to do what you need to do to keep your spirits high and build on that positive outlook. Because there’s so much good this world is yet to see and we all have a part to play in getting there.

Anita Gopal - VMG