Contributor's Opinion

Opinion: Facts not fears campaign: How to fight stress during the COVID-19 lockdown

By Yoal Gatkuoth Riek

A graphic image of coronavirus (source: Wikipedia)
A graphic image of coronavirus (source: Wikipedia)

May 5, 2020 (Nyamilepedia) – The rising era of the coronavirus has created a perfect downpour for anxiety, isolation, and depression in the world and in our communities. Identifying productive ways to address these mental health challenges is important and is important not just for fun or short-term health, but for long-term health as well.

As a youth leader and psychologist, I do hereby to share the six-pointers that we can each encompass into our daily lives to help cope with the deadly virus in the history of humankind:  Brothers, sisters, fathers, and mothers, and other comparable; you are not alone

Human beings are social animals by nature, but the coronavirus has compelled us with social isolation and fears. This absence of human connection can deepen stress and create a level of anxiety that is unhealthy.

Disconnect and rise greater connection to others, by using your digital materials:
Create or join an online support group that allows you to connect with neighbors and discuss shared challenges, experiences and interests in an open forum, Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, radios and etc. And translate the COVID -19 awareness tips through our local languages.

Use cell phones, text messaging and video calling to you to continue to feel connected to friends, colleagues and family while maintaining safe social distance.

Keeping in contact with the ones you love and having the comfort however temporary that they are okay can help reduce stress in an already stressful situation.

Create Healthy Habits Island

When we take good care of our bodies, we optimize our ability to think clearly, solve problems and manage our emotions. Healthy habits that you can control while dealing with pandemic-created stress include:

Get enough time to read books, watch movies, and cook and get satisfactory sleep each night and create an environment that promotes rest. Avoid habits that can adversely affect your quality of sleep.

Eating high-quality traditional foods and recommendable foods from World Health Organization that contain quantity of vitamins, minerals, which help cultivate the brain and protect against created stress.

Do not watch the news and back off the social media for the sometimes

It is very tempting to watch everything and updating the people with cases and death dates listed and take in all the information that is coming in. Do not do that to yourself. Avoid news that could make you feel anxious and choose the stuff that is practical and helpful.

Don’t Dwell on Grief too much

Now a day, people are feeling grief over the loss of routines, certainty, and a perception of themselves as being generally healthy and protected. Growing uncertainty and an ever-evolving news cycle of bad news have people feeling increasingly unsafe. Here are some views on how you can process grief in constructive ways:

Practice gratitude. Many of us continue to be safe and healthy. For some, self-isolation means spending time with family that you might otherwise not have had. Explore new hobbies. Enlarging your horizons through new interests can prove healing.

Expressing feelings to friends and loved ones. Having an open dialogue with friends and family can help you process what you are grieving about and enhances the understanding that you are not alone knowing that most of the people are too old to laugh but challenging you to remember to Laugh this time

There is increasing lines to support the positive impact that laughter has on our health, both in the short-term and in the long-term. When you begin to laugh, it doesn’t just enhance your mental state it induces physical changes in your body including:

Enabling organs. Laughter enhances the body’s intake of oxygen, enabling the heart, lungs, and muscles to increase the endorphins released by the brain.  Activating and reducing the stress response. Laughter activates and relieves your stress response, which can increase and decrease your heart rate and blood pressure.

Calming tension. A good laugh enables circulation and promotes muscle relaxation both essential for reducing physical symptoms of stress. When possible and appropriate, try to share a laugh or a light moment with a friend or loved one.

The Comprehend of Good vs. bad anxiety

Some anxiety is productive. It’s what motivates us to wash our hands often and distance ourselves from others when there’s an important reason to do so. But unproductive anxiety can make our mind spin in all kinds of frightening directions.

Focus on the present. Staying grounded in the present prevents our anxiety from turning around stories about the future, like worrying excessively that you or someone you love will become fatally ill.  Take reasonable protections. Keeping up on essential tips and practicing good hygiene and responsible social distancing are all reasonable protections in response to a pandemic. Avoid the urge to panic.

Be aware of distress reactions. Trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating and a sense of being unsafe are all signs that someone is experiencing a distress reaction. Are we together!

NB: COVID is real, stopped making fun with it and get information from the trusted sources.


The author is a Psychologist and Peace Activist currently among thousands of South Sudanese youth who have joined the fight against COVID-19. You can reach the writer by this email: toyoalg.kuoth360@gmail.com 

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