I was astounded to see the amount of pressure on individuals as South Africa entered into our nationwide lockdown. Immediately, my Instagram was flooded with ‘inspirational’ quotes and guidelines of ‘how to do lockdown right’. I hit a boiling point when I saw an image floating on social media that read: “Remember who checked up on you and who stayed in touch with you during lockdown. These are your real friends”.
How can we be so naive not to see the multi-faceted ways lockdown has affected individuals? It got me fired up. I couldn’t understand how this post had me so disappointed. I began to unpack these feelings and I realized a couple of things that I wanted to share with you.
Put Down the Pressure
We are in a global pandemic. We are NOT in a period where we must learn to excel and/or gain new skills. Yes, lockdown comes with perks but it also comes with increased stressors. Each individual is made up of their own genetics and their own experiences and their reaction to stress and confinement will depend on that. So every person’s response will be unique: Some individuals will feel improvement in their anxiety as they are no longer forced into the offices that they dislike, or social environments which provoke their social anxiety or insecurities. Others will experience an increase in their anxiety.
“I find myself leaving voice notes unread for days on end or stopping communication out of the blue.”
I for one, definitely fall into the latter category. Aside from my worries of the future, the pressure of finances during this time, my new business and wondering when I will see my family/friends again, my anxiety is also increased by the confinement I am experiencing.
Bottom Line: The cells in our bodies remember the last time they had physical touch (known as cell memory). When we are apart from touch, our bodies become ‘sad’ which ultimately leads to feeling lethargic. Each person will react differently to this. Some might be able to push harder in exercise, work longer hours, eat healthier and maintain a routine. Others can become depressed and little to no capacity to achieve even the smallest goals.
Communicating is one of the larger issues I am facing during lockdown. My capacity to speak to people has been exceptionally low. I find that there are some people who have been in my life for a lot longer who I can speak to daily. And there are other people, who I may not know as well, with whom I can’t regularly communicate with. I find myself leaving voice notes unread for days on end or stopping communication with people out of the blue.
“If you are staying with someone you will most likely share a trauma connection with them.”
But others are desperately looking for connection during this time. There is an obvious increase in activity on social media. People who I haven’t spoken to for 7 years have reached out to ‘get in touch’.
Bottom Line: Whilst this is an incredible opportunity to create connection and unity, please don’t be hard on yourself if you cannot speak to someone as much as you used to. Or even if you need to take a break from communicating with them. It is okay. You are allowed to.
New Levels of Lonely
Another result of quarantine is trauma bonding. Trauma bonds are created between 2 or more people where an intense emotional experience is shared. If you are staying with someone or multiple people during lockdown, you will most likely share a trauma connection with them.
“If you can’t leave home today or respond to that text message, DON’T.”
This connection means that when you have to go to the shops (or do anything outside) without that person/those people, you will feel an increase in anxiety because you feel unsafe. THIS IS OKAY. The people at home are generally people you will feel safest with so it makes sense to feel more fearful when separated from them.
Bottom line: Nobody wants to feel alone and when you have ‘trauma bonded’ with somebody, you will feel more alone than ever when you physically separate from them. Be mindful of this as the lockdown begins to ease and you return to ‘normal’ daily life.
What has worked for me is to take it minute-by-minute. You are going to make it through this. Stick to a schedule as best you can to ease additional chaos. Be KIND to yourself. Be self-compassionate. If you can’t leave home today or if you just can’t seem to respond to that text message, DON’T. Allow yourself whatever you need.
Do not let the lives of others dictate how you should feel during this pandemic. We are all different, yet we all are sharing this burden together.