Loadshedding, as all South Africans can attest to, is an extremely stressful experience that’s here to stay. There are several things you could do to stay sane during loadshedding.
In a country where the state of mental health already ranks among the lowest in the world, the crises of the Covid-19 pandemic, loadshedding and economic plight have served only to further test the resilience of the nation.
“With loadshedding, there’s a high sense of unpredictability which leads to a sense of anger, frustration, despair and general disillusionment,” said psychologist Lerato Mokgethi, noting that it could be difficult to adapt. “It’s a basic loss of service which contributes significantly to depression and anxiety.”
With loadshedding comes a host of additional burdens, including loss of income, disruption to learning, increased crime. Widespread disruption is also felt in the daily commutes between work, school and home.
Mokethi said this meant that loadshedding left people “on survival mode, which heightens anxiety”. She further stated depression as a possible side effect of South Africa’s frequent power outages over the long term.
While the energy crisis may be an unpredictable challenge, there are several things one could do to stay sane during loadshedding. Here are three of those to get you started.
Recognise what you can control
Quite importantly, Mokgethi said, people should begin by identifying what they can and cannot control. Thereafter, one could adapt accordingly.
“I don’t think there’s anything anyone can do with regards to the schedule. Look at how you can best adapt and adjust to the environment,” said Mokgethi.
Support each other
One of the most prominent lessons learnt during the lockdowns of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 was supporting each other because ‘we’re in it together’.
Mokgethi said loadshedding elicited the same trauma response as the pandemic and advised people to seek and offer support.
“It’s very important to seek support amongst your community, but also offer support. Sometimes all it takes is hot water to make somebody’s day,” she said.
Keep yourself engaged
An easy way to pass the time during a power outage is to read a book, listen to audiobooks or listen to podcasts. If there’s a book you’ve left unread, this might be the time to dust it off and start reading!
You may also want to get physical and do exercises or go for a walk. Doing so may engender the release of endorphins within your system. This is your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitter, which would be a good mood-lifter when it’s needed most.
“We are constantly in survival mode. It’s one crisis after another and as South Africans, we really deserve a break. The psychology of the country is really at stake and it’s very concerning,” said Mokgethi.
Salaamedia’s Inayet Wadee and Lerato Mokgethi also spoke about managing kids and teens during loadshedding, as well as why it’s okay to seek professional help during the energy crisis. Watch the full discussion here.