How to stay mentally healthy during the lock-down period


Also known as the Coronavirus – has had a devastating effect globally with infections and deaths increasing daily.

In the midst of a pandemic such as this, it is normal to feel fearful and anxious, but if these emotions consume your every thought, it could be time to seek help.

For many South Africans who suffer from a mental health condition, the 21-day lockdown may worsen or even intensify symptoms.

The isolated state could make mental health sufferers feel like they have no one to turn to as they have no other choice but to physically distance themselves from friends and family.

Now more than ever, it is important that sufferers feel supported and are given the tools to help them cope.

  1. Reach out to your friends and family who are affected by mental illness. Being isolated increases feelings of loneliness and depression. While being confined to your home, stay in touch by using technology. Video call, WhatsApp or use other applications to stay in touch so that loved ones don’t feel like they’re doing this on their own.
  2. Don’t stay glued to the news. Staying on top of the latest information has both its positives and negatives. While it’s good to be in the know, the constant news on Coronavirus deaths and the rapid spread of the illness can cause panic-induced stress and anxiety. Stick to a set time once a day to tune into the news.
  3. Limit the time you spend on social media and news sites. There’s a lot of fake news doing the rounds which can also cause unnecessary stress. Follow reputable news outlets and updates from the World Health Organization and the South African Government.
  4. Maintain a daily routine. This will bring normality back to your day.
  5. Create a to-do list. Whether it’s things you’ve always wanted to do around the house or trying your hand at a new hobby.
  6. Learn a new skill. Sites such as Google offer free online-skills training.
  7. Connect with your family. Once your chores or work for the day is done, participate in a family games night, it can make for lots of fun and create lasting memories.
  8. Catch up on reading. Many online libraries have removed paywalls so now is your opportunity to read that novel you’ve always wanted to.
  9. Get moving. It’s proven to release feel-good endorphins and will help you to mentally centre yourself again.
  10. Create a gratitude journal. Take a few minutes of each day to jot down what you are grateful for.
  11. Take care of yourself. Caring for your mind and body is essential in this difficult time we find ourselves in. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
  12. Continue your treatment. If you’re currently on treatment for a mental health condition, continue with your course of medication. If you have become aware of new or worsening symptoms, note them and reach out to your health care professional.

If you feel like it is all getting too much, speak to a trained councillor on the Pharma Dynamics toll-free hotline: 0800 20 50 26. The line is operational from 8 am to 8 pm Monday to Sunday.

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