Tafi Mazikana has always been passionate about breaking the stigmas around mental health. He benefitted from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) himself and strongly believes in its power to transform lives. Alongside his partner, Sherrie Steyn, they established the Vimbo App to help individuals who are suffering from anxiety and depression. The mental illness app pairs CBT principles with fun and engaging experiences.
Steyn has extensive experience in adapting and delivering interventions for face-to-face, group, telephone and computer-based modalities of CBT to diverse populations. The latest reports show that depression is the single largest contributor to global disability, contributing 7.5% of all years lived with disability. The global treatment gap for depression is estimated at 56% and for those who obtain treatment, this only happens 10 years on average after symptoms of a depressed mood begin”.
They suggest a 5 Step Plan to Manage Anxiety and Isolation:
1.Keep a Routine
Sticking to your usual routine as much as possible can help increase your sense of certainty. Eating regular, healthy meals and taking your usual medication is also essential. Doing this can help keep your immune system healthy, and help keep your anxiety levels in check too by helping your internal systems (such as blood sugar levels and hormones) remain stable. Exercising can also help reduce your anxiety levels by burning cortisol – a hormone associated with stress.
Our thoughts can have a powerful impact on our mood and body. When we feel anxious, we tend to worry more. We may notice powerful physical sensations such as muscle tension and a racing heart. Trying to keep your focus on the here and now, can ensure your energy is where it is best used and most influential. You may find that some tasks or activities are better at holding your focus than others, especially those that require your concentration or physical movement. Some ideas include washing dishes, painting or colouring a picture, doing a number or word puzzle and playing games.
- Learn new coping skills
Psychologists often use the analogy of a bucket when describing stress and coping skills. Imagine your system as a bucket. The water pouring into your bucket represents the stressors or demands you are facing in life. The holes in the bottom of your bucket are your coping strategies, the things you do to help you relax and to deal with your demands.
You could increase the coping skills you have by trying some new ones. New hobbies and interests can provide an excellent source for reducing anxious worrying by getting you to practice something new. You could also consider practicing some active relaxation such as meditation or Progressive Muscle Relaxation.
Free Audio Meditations are available on http://www.vimbohealth.com/coronavirus-anxiety-help.html
4) Use technology to stay in touch
Being apart from those we care about can be difficult and make us feel even more stressed (we’re used to being a part of a herd!). Try using technology to help you keep in touch with friends and family. Try to offer support as well as share your concerns when you chat, but be sure not to lead each other down the dark and uncertain paths of “what if”. These thoughts will only make you feel anxious and drain your energy since there is nothing you can do about them in the present.
Although social media can help us keep in contact with each other easily, it can also help spread anxiety and unnecessary fears. Try to notice for yourself how social media is impacting your thoughts and feelings. Not all of us are comfortable and confident with technology in other words there is also nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned phone call.
5) Be Kind
Try to be kind and compassionate to yourself and others. When we feel stressed or anxious, we tend to be angrier and snap more at others. Try to be mindful of how you are behaving towards others and try to be compassionate with how others may be responding at the moment.