How to deal with anxiety after traumatic events in SA

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought grief and anxiety to many families across the country.  Over the past weeks, we’ve also seen riots that led to looting in some parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. These events have left devastation for many families, and dealing with the aftermath can lead to anxiety. 

Rushka Lee Pedro, Family Law Mediator and Life Coach, share tips on identifying and dealing with anxiety.

Unlike other ailments, anxiety is difficult to diagnose, making it harder for the person experiencing it to recognise it. However, some symptoms can help you identify that you have anxiety. 

Lee Pedro explains that while it is hard to diagnose anxiety, when a person is experiencing anxiety, they will know they are experiencing it. She further explains that when you have anxiety, your body is unbalanced, leading to hypervigilance, where you are constantly watching your back. Additionally, you might have a touch of irritability, restlessness, insomnia, change in eating habits, nausea and excessive worrying. 

READ MORE: How to help your child deal with anxiety 

When you experience these symptoms, Lee Pedro advises you to seek help. You can do this by visiting your local or family doctor. 

“Make sure that you write everything down before you visit your doctor, even if it’s a pain in your leg or a cramp in your left shoulder. Go with all the facts to ensure that the doctor can properly diagnose it,” she says. 

She adds that if its something new and you don’t want to go to your doctor, there are things you can do at home such as: 

  • Cutting down on alcohol
  • Eating a healthier diet 
  • Getting a good sleep 
  • Do a few activities to help you calm down, such as taking a warm bath, taking a walk, meditating, praying and listening to calming music.

These activities can help you manage your anxiety better; however, if you do all of this and still struggle, you need to seek medical help. While stress affects many adults, children can also suffer from anxiety. 

Therefore parents must keep a close eye on their children. When it comes to children, anxiety can manifest in several ways, such as changing behaviour, losing temper, lacking concentration, and acting out in class. Once you identify these issues with your child, it is also essential; however to seek medical assistance. 

Besides seeking medical help, you must talk to your child about how they feel and reassure them that you are there for them as a parent. 

While you might not have all the answers for everything happening around you, taking care of your mental wellness is the most important thing you can do.  

For free resources to help you deal with anxiety, you can contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group on 0800 567 567.

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