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Skip Navigation Linkscovid-19-how-to-cope-with-your-mental-health-during-an-uncertain-time COVID-19: How to Cope with your Mental Health During an Uncertain Time

South Africa entered a nationwide lockdown for 21 days from 26 March to 16 April. Following the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa, many people are experiencing heightened feelings of stress, anxiety and fear, but it’s important to remember you’re not alone. We offer some tips to help you cope with your mental health during the lockdown.

Understand the Nature of your Anxiety

According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), “the outbreak can cause fear and anxiety, it can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults, teens or even children.”

It is, however, important to understand what makes you panic and stress. Is it the fear of the unknown or are you scared of going back to work? Whatever the reason, turn your fears into positive thoughts and focus on tasks keeping you happy and lifting your mood.

Stay Safe and be Informed About COVID-19

The volume of information available about the Coronavirus can make it very difficult to know what is reliable. While we don’t recommend checking your Twitter feed the whole time, you still need to know what’s happening around you.

  • Turn to the news for updated information, but minimise watching, reading and listening to the media if you feel anxious and distressed.
  • Verify information before passing it onto colleagues, friends or family members. Sort facts from fiction by using the website, Africheck.
  • Only stick to trustworthy sources.

Shift your Focus

When you feel caught up in your emotions, try to shift your focus to positive things and hopeful stories.

  • Do something creative. Tim Sneath, a writer on Medium says, “When we focus our attention on creating something without the pressure of expectations, our nervous system can begin to regulate all the underlying anxieties. And if you enjoy what you’re creating, even a scribble, you release dopamine and counter that fatigue.”
  • Reduce your personal risk by practicing social or physical distancing. You can still use social media platforms, WhatsApp, make phone calls and send emails to stay in touch with your loved ones.
  • Get enough exercise. Being at home doesn’t mean you need to neglect your exercise routine. Do home workouts or go for a run in your garden to get rid of your negative thoughts.
  • Don’t let the virus become the topic of every conversation you have. Write down your goals for after the lockdown period or make to-do lists to keep you busy.
  • Be supportive of other people. Assisting others in their time of need can benefit yourself and the person receiving support. Send someone a virtual grocery shopping voucher or support local businesses by buying a voucher to use when the lockdown ends.
  • Be kind to yourself and your body.
  • Maintain your daily routine and make time for fun activities.

Stay safe and healthy.

* Contact SADAG on 0800 456 789 for telephonic support and virtual consultations with expert psychologists.

Although this document has been prepared with due care and in good faith, the interpretations and opinions are those of the authors and are subject to change without notice. As such, the contents do not constitute definitive advice and should not be accepted as such. Neither Simeka Heatlh (Pty) Ltd nor the authors accept liability for any damage whatsoever or however it may arise, including but not limited to, direct, indirect or consequential loss that may arise as a result of sole reliance on the information herein. Competent professional advice should be sought when dealing with any contentious issue. Simeka Health (Pty) Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sanlam.



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