If you thought you have been feeling a bit more anxious lately, you are not alone according to a recent survey by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG). The online survey revealed that most South Africans were dealing with anxiety followed by financial pressure and depression during this lockdown. As the country eases into level 4 lockdown restrictions, the slightly relaxed regulations will do many good says relationship expert, international speaker and author Paula Quinsee. “Researchers have found there is an inflection point where the frustration and hardship of being cooped up inside suddenly gets harder to endure and we’re are starting to shift into that phase now” she says.Stringent lockdown regulations and social distancing has stripped many of essential human interactions with others which are necessary for one’s wellbeing she explains, “When people lack love and touch connection in their lives, it can have a negative impact on their mental and physical wellbeing. Our bodies produce oxytocin, also known as the love or cuddle hormone, which plays a role in social bonding attachment and can help to tackle loneliness. Even a gentle touch from a stranger has been shown to reduce feelings of social exclusion,” Paula says. SADAG broke down some of the challenges their participants were facing during this time in percentages. At the very top was anxiety and panic at 55%, financial stress and pressure at 46% and depression at 40%. The other noteworthy figures were poor family relations at 30%, feelings of suicide at 12% and substance abuse at 6% out of the total of 1 214 respondents. As many South Africans will be getting back to work next week Paula advises that employers may need to rethink their manner of doing business as employees will need to readjust to a full day of work again. “Companies will need to relook and possibly re-design every protocol at work from interviews, meetings, meals, bathroom time, commutes, check-in’s to the building and the list goes on, to take into account social distancing requirements which is a huge task.” For individuals who feel they are not coping, she advises seeking professional aid as soon as possible and also she says, “It’s equally important for organisations to include mental health as a critical factor in their business planning and strategies going forward because Covid-19 and lockdown is here for many months to come,” she says.For those who will be working from home for a little while longer, SADAG also revealed some coping mechanisms that worked for their participants during their time indoors. The top five choices were getting some exercise, chatting to someone, watching a film/TV show (not the news), doing housework or a home project and sharing a meal with family members.