The increasing Risk of burnout, anxiety, lasting trauma & mental health Concerns During Covid 19

We are currently seeing, the daily rate of Covid-19 infections increasing here in South Africa. Whilst our president, Cyril Ramaphosa together with cabinet, government, various stakeholders, and industry recently took a necessary decision to maintain our country’s lockdown level at 3, and not raise it again to level 4 or 5, so as ensure the economy was able to continue to open up, trade, and start the long road to recovery.

Looking at what people are saying, doing and their overall sentiment online, during zoom meetings, focus groups, as well as when we overhear people talking in malls, discussions with our clients and suppliers as well as our own friends and families, this is what we found: People are a blur of emotions all mixed into one, and more often than not, they are unable to verbalise exactly how or what they are feeling. What we did see coming up regularly, is that the average person is tired, anxious, angry, lost, and confused…

These feelings and emotions experienced by us all are very real and expected, especially in this time of extended lockdown where we all experience such uncertainty. It is a time where we just may not be sure of how to deal with what we are facing. These overwhelming feelings, Covid-19 lockdown conditions, many different forms of social isolation, all leaving us feeling potentially more disconnected and lost, mean that there may be a very real possibility of physical and emotional burnout for everyone from the very top management, right down to the most junior people in your workplace. While everyone experiences this time differently, the most common feelings are increased fear and anxiety. Burnout is an emotional, mental and often physical sense of exhaustion with the most common symptoms of burnout being: irritability, anger, exhaustion, cynicism, and a loss of sense of meaning or purpose in life, work or even in relationships (with friends, family, clients, suppliers and even our own team members).

The real question is what can you do to build you and your team’s resilience during this time of uncertainty and reduce the risk of burnout? Though we are not medical professionals, our research has shown the following suggestions:

  • Seek professional help should you need it. Whilst there is a stigma associated with seeking professional help from a psychologist, there should not be (only the uneducated or fearful don’t see the huge benefits of help from a professional). Therapy can often help change your view point, or help you process the challenges you are facing. Mental health awareness and understanding is key.

  • Ask for help and talk about your reality. It is important to express what your reality is and what it is exactly that need. And if you are in this position, where someone trusts you, listen and hear with understanding and a willingness to find a flexible solution, or sometimes they need you to just listen.

  • Be flexible - at this time, it is important to give yourself and others a break - remember we are all doing the best we can. People say we are all in the same boat. This is not true. We are all in the same storm, everyone’s boat is different.

  • Control what you can. Remember the only things you can control are your response and your actions. You cannot control how someone else acts or how they respond.

  • Try to find meaning and purpose in your work. This is often extremely difficult to do this, carve out time and space to reflect on the meaning whatever you are doing has during this time and beyond. Find a project that keeps you inspired, do some pro-bono work or even relook at your own personal brand.

  • Remember to breathe, and take a moment for you, as often as you need it.

Through gentleness, kindness, clarity, and correct action, burnout does not have to overtake us all during this time of uncertainty and ever changing goal posts. Together we can get through this all.

Crafted by Chris Midgley

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