'Now is the time to be generous': How to cope after 'a very difficult year'

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Take it one day at a time. (iStock)
Take it one day at a time. (iStock)

"In this time of global health crisis, South Africans from all walks of life are confronted with new realities in a challenging and uncertain environment, requiring of all of us to work on building and strengthening personal resilience."

"Being resilient means to be psychologically flexible, to take hold of our minds in order to calm our emotions and face the new realities that confront us with clear sight and thought."

So advises Sandy Lewis, a clinical social worker and head of therapeutic services at Akeso mental health facilities

Lewis says that while we made it through the worst of a very difficult year, we should expect stress to be even more heightened during the festive season as emotions are typically amplified during this period.

"Anxiety and worry are understandable emotions when looking into a future we simply cannot know". 

However, Lewis says to bare in mind that, "Our anxiety serves little constructive purpose and tends to erode our personal resilience in the face of challenges". 

ALSO READ | How stress affects your children, and how to recognise the signs

So what can we do to build and strengthen our personal resilience during the holidays?

Lewis says that one can start by not getting stuck in negative thinking and not dwelling on the past. 

"We should direct our energy towards focusing on what we need to manage today, and solving those issues. In other words, we should focus fully on the present... and work towards dealing with the practical daily tasks at hand". 

Embracing the notion of taking things one day, and one step at a time will prove helpful Lewis says. 

"Focusing on and addressing the practical aspects of today is much more useful than worrying about a future that none of us are able to predict," she says. 

Avoid your anxiety or depression triggers

By establishing what triggers anxiety or other distractive responses especially during the festive season, you can try to either steer clear of those particular triggers or find ways around them that will stop you from feeling anxious or negative. 

"Also, should you find you are having trouble... consider distracting yourself in healthy ways. For example, rather than worrying, go for a walk, do gardening, listen to music, cook a meal, try a new hobby or watch a favourite movie or series," Lewis advises. 

Stay present 

"Staying present with the reality that you are faced with today, focusing on your current tasks and distracting yourself if you find you are having trouble coping, can all assist in developing greater resilience," Lewis urges. 

"Now is the time to be generous, thoughtful, kind and compassionate, with an attitude that embraces the well-being of all... we will face that new reality with renewed strength, coping with its challenges day by day". 

Submitted to Parent24 by Akeso. 


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