On 30th December 2019, the world was shocked by the news of a new virus that was discovered in a cluster of cases of pneumonia that began in the Wuhan Province of China. On 13th January 2020, the first case out of China was discovered in Thailand. Ever since, the whole world was affected and infected by the novel virus, then known as the Coronavirus or COVID-19.
The pandemic has caused severe economic disruption, the greatest global economic recession since The Great Depression in 1930s, during which, the world had only recovered from the Spanish Flu. However, the pandemic did not only affect the economy but also our lifestyle with the new norms that we have to adhere to during the pandemic.
Global requirements of wearing masks, maintaining a distance of at least 1-2 meters away, working from home, and much more. Though some of us adjust well to these new norms, some evidently struggles and a protest erupted even to this day, demanding for things to go back to the way they were. These protests occurred due to a lack of understanding of this virus as well as the widespread misinformation circulated through social media.
Since 18 March 2020, our government has enforced a Movement Control Order (MCO) nationwide to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The MCO showed improvement within 4 months of implementation and on the 1st July 2020, Malaysia recorded 1 imported case and 0 local case. However, Malaysia has now fallen into a fourth wave of the virus and has been on the rise ever since. Now, we are seeing a number of more than 10,000 cases daily.
Being locked up for too long has taken a toll on our health in terms of mental health. Ever since the outbreak, many of us struggle to cope with the change. When a year ago, we were so sure that the pandemic will end in 2021, by now, nothing seems to be improving and the future seems unsure. When the future seems unsure, many forms of anxieties begin.
6 New Anxieties from the Pandemic
- Anxiety of Being in Public
When the pandemic first broke out, we were told the dangers of it and how fast it can infect someone in mere minutes. Every one of us became wary to go outside unless it was necessary, in fear of being infected by the virus. Either in a crowded or non-crowded place, we are constantly worried that someone out there might be the one carrying the virus and spread the disease to the people around them.
Even though most of us are still wary of this to this day, we can see now that some people do not care about it anymore. The lack of awareness and care in others to adhere to the Standards of Operating Procedures (SOPs), such as social distancing, only adds to our worry more.
How many times have you been in a queue to pay for your groceries, that you wanted to lash out on the person standing too close behind you? While you might be doing your part to ensure the safety of yourself and others, the people who do not do the same makes you worry. You get anxious to go outside.
The same, or worse, can be said about the front liners such as health workers, retailers, the police, fast-food restaurant workers. The people in these fields have no choice but to face hundreds and thousands of people in one day. They are constantly exposed to the virus and it only worsens when some customers refuse to adhere to the SOPs and in some cases, argue with the staff. We can only imagine how frightening it is for our front liners to wake up and go to work every day.
- Being the Spreader of the Coronavirus
Let’s be honest. Sometimes, you think that you could be infected with the virus when you have symptoms similar to COVID-19, like flu, headaches, or sore throat. It could be allergies or just a common cold but you were afraid that it could be a deadly virus so you isolate yourself in your room for days, just to be sure that it is not the virus. Multiple scenarios go through your head. What if you infect your family, friends, and pets? What if they get the worst side of the virus?
Our front liners probably face the same problem with themselves daily. Every day, our front liners will return home with heaviness in their chest. One question constantly playing in their heads, “What if I’m infected by the virus and will infect my family?”
- Losing Source of Income
The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly affected our economy in the worst way possible. Ever since the first MCO was implemented, many small businesses have been closed down and even big businesses are facing a recline like never before.
To individuals like us, who might have had a job before the pandemic, we were suddenly faced with joblessness. Although some of us managed to keep our jobs, our salaries had to be cut less and especially in sales and retail fields, the low income is evident due to fewer customers. Due to less income in business, many businesses are forced to downsize and have to retrench almost 50% of their staff.
Unemployed people and fresh graduates are now finding it harder than ever to land a secure job, even with their qualifications. Even though this encourages some to start up an online home-based business, businesses still require capital and we cannot get capital if we have no income to start with.
- Ability to Have a Sustainable Living
The lack of income has become the greatest challenge and worry ever since the beginning of the pandemic. A few of the working class of M40 are now steadily moving into the B40 community as a result of being retrenched by their employer, while the B40 community is now becoming indigent.
Cases of suicide have skyrocketed in the last few months as more and more people are getting fired from their jobs while being the breadwinner of their families. It gets harder when they are not qualified to receive funds from the government. As savings are lowered, rents are unpaid, it becomes harder and harder to buy basic necessities for survival.
That is why the White Flag Movement acts as a ray of hope to these people. This movement has helped thousands of families and households throughout the country by providing them with basic supplies such as rice bags, eggs, flours, and more. Starving families can now eat and survive. The movement brings a new sense of hope to many people, acts as an encouragement to endure just a little more for a better life.
- Post-Shopping Anxiety
The pandemic has brought a fear of a lockdown happening, a situation in which we are absolutely forbidden to step out of the compound of our house. This has caused many people to resort to panic buying household products. Although the government assured us that a full lockdown will not be enforced in the country, we still buy as many things as possible to avoid going out too often, to minimise our time in public. We were afraid that if food are not enough for at least the next two weeks, we would have to go out again and increase our risk of being infected. So we’d always ended up buying a lot of things!
Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, we were informed of how the virus spreads through contact with an infected person, either directly or through the items they have touched. So, by going to the supermarket or even being in public, our anxieties skyrocketed with this reminder.
While some of us even brought our own sanitizers to clean the trolley or shopping basket, some had even opted to use latex gloves. We know we did. We would constantly use hand sanitizers either in public or at home. It came to a point where our hands got so dry that the skin peels off!
Then, once we got home, we would either leave our groceries out in the Sun or use half a can of sanitizer spray on them. Don’t forget how we would change our clothes and take a shower as soon as we got home! We were so afraid that the virus would have followed us home. We still are!
6. Living Far from Other Family Members
Those who live in different cities from their families are now constantly worrying about the well-being of their families. Especially when they have elderly parents, spouses, and children living far from them. With the strict ban for inter-division and inter-state travel, the regular weekly, monthly or yearly visits have now become impossible to do.
Many have been separated for 2-3 years and it is worse for the ones who are living abroad for having to wait with the uncertainty of returning home now that the majority of international borders are closed. It is especially most devastating when one cannot even go home to visit their sick parents and can only go back to attend funerals when it is already too late.
5 Tips to Manage New Anxieties from the Pandemic
These are only a few of the anxieties from a long list that most of us experienced from the beginning of the pandemic. Anxieties cause over-thinking, which causes lack of sleep and subsequently lowers the appetite. It deteriorates our mental health. Even so, we may have several methods to help you cope with your anxieties during this trying time.
- Exercise and Meditation
Exercising has been known to be able to release positive hormones to our bodies. In fact, scientists found that exercising for at least 30 minutes daily can release endorphins, a chemical produced by the body to alleviate stress and relief pain. Although it is hard to exercise properly nowadays as gyms and most parks are closed to the public, home workouts are still possible!
There is no need to do heavy workouts for our body to be able to release this hormone. Simple workouts like jogging, aerobic, light-weighted exercise, and yoga are good enough for your body!
To have a greater experience of exercising at home, use these essential oils by diffusing or using the diluted oils on your body:
- Lemongrass – Boosts energy and relief muscle aches post-workout
- Nature’s Guard – Uplifts mood and energizing
- Peppermint – Sharpens focus and support healthy breathing
Meditation is also widely known to be able to help clear the mind of all negative and overwhelming thoughts, other than being good for the body. The sport, through meditation, is able to balance the breathing and heart rates, subsequently reduces anxiety!
The next time you want to try meditating, do try these essential oils to help you meditate:
- Frankincense – Reduces stress and pain, grounding, promotes mental balance, boosts faith
- Myrrh – Cleanses body from negativity, reduces stress, promotes mental focus
- Cedarwood Atlas – Grounding, shields against negative energy to the body and mind
- Lavender – Calming and soothing, reduces anxiety and emotional imbalance
Not only exercising and meditating are good for our mental health, they are also beneficial for our physical health (especially with all the weight we gained throughout MCO!).
Nowadays, whether in public or alone at home, anxiety always finds its way to creep on us like poison. Many people have found aromatherapy to be helpful in their daily life. Helping one to relax after loads of work, promotes better sleep or even seek extra methods for improving the immune system!
Different types of essential oil have their very own benefits and while you can diffuse them at home, you can also turn it into home sprays or even roll-on balms that you can use anytime, anywhere! These are some of the essential oils that can help to clear your mind and keep you calm:
- Juniper Berry
- Calming Blend
- Stress Away Blend
Check out our diffusers and roll-on blends too!
Sitting on the balcony may give you benefits more than you know. Sunlight is known to produce vitamin D on the skin and it boosts the production of serotonin and melatonin for better mood and quality sleep. Even UV radiation from the Sun is found to boost endorphins levels in your body! Only 15 minutes of exposure in the sun daily will do you good for a long time. However, sunlight exposure can also increase the risk of skin cancer and premature ageing of the skin, so don’t forget to use sunscreen of at least SPF15 before your daily sunbath!
- Improve Self-Care Routine
Improving your self-care routine proves to help with anxiety. By creating and maintaining new ways to take care of yourself, you can keep your mind busy from overthinking! Self-care does not always mean going to a spa and spoiling yourself there. In this pandemic, we do our self-care in the comfort of our home!
Remember when we said how vigorously we sanitise our hands to the point that it became so dry? We have a way to keep our hands moisturised and smooth even after using hand sanitisers! Use these oils or hand soap to keep your hands moisturised:
- Olive Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Golden Jojoba Oil
- Sweet Almond Oil
- Dabai Bar Soap
- Terong Assam Bar Soap
- Chamomile Soap
- Aloe Jasmine Soap
- Aleppo Soap
- Lavender Body Oil
- Grapefruit Body Oil
- Stingless Bee Honey Soap
In American TV series, we often see the characters taking a long bath after a long day to pamper themselves. As a sort of reward, a pat on the back, after working hard the whole day. What if we tell you that you can do the same thing, with or without a bathtub? Yes, with only a foot soak, you can get the same calming and relaxing effect as a warm bath! Even better, you can soak your foot while watching TV and eating your favourite snacks! Just a spoonful of the foot soak of your choice in a basin of warm water and you’re set for a relaxing hour!
- Tea & Salt Soak
- Lavender & Peppermint Foot Soak
- Lemongrass & Peppermint Foot Soak
- Floral Detox Foot Soak
- Ultimate Bliss Foot Soak
- Binge A Series!
We all somehow found our ways to K-dramas during the MCO. After all, it was one of the ways for us to kill time when we’re not allowed to go out! But, did you know that a TV series can boost endorphins levels? Yes! Watching dramas have been proven to release positive chemicals in your body!
Watching something that appeals to your emotions such as making you laugh, angry, or cry, can trigger your brain to send out happy hormones your way! Tear-jerking dramas and films work best to trigger the release.
So, what is your favourite tear-jerking drama or film?
The pandemic has affected all of us in one way or another. Every day, we look for a ray of hope that will take us out of this misery. Not all hope is lost. It can be achieved when we stay united together to fight through this, take care of ourselves well and in return, take care of our loved ones well too. So, call upon your family and friends, check out how they’re doing, how they’re coping in these trying times. You never know how the slightest, simplest gesture of kindness and care can help someone for life.
Until COVID-19 stops becoming a pandemic, let us do our part in curbing the spread of the virus. Let’s be kind and #StaySafe.