11 May Mental Health During The Lockdown
Mental Health During the Lockdown: By Natasha Turton -Counselling Psychologist
Covid-19 has brought life to a complete halt with schools and businesses being shut down and everyone going into lockdown. This has created a dramatic and instant shift in our daily lives and routines. In addition to that, it has created a lot of fear and uncertainty. Some of the psychological effects and responses to this time may include:
- Fear of you or someone you know falling ill or dying.
- Fear of losing your income or being dismissed from work.
- Feelings of loneliness and isolation due to being separated from loved ones.
- Feelings of boredom, irritation and being overwhelmed.
- Feelings of uncertainty as to when the pandemic will end and life will go back to ‘normal’.
- Increased levels of stress and anxiety due to having to balance work, homeschooling and household chores.
- Being in lockdown with an abusive partner or family member.
- Struggling to cope with preexisting mental health challenges because one is not able to access previous ways of coping (support groups, gym, outings with friends, work)
The fear and uncertainty, coupled with the heightened experience of loneliness and isolation can have a profound impact on one’s mental health, we cannot underplay the emotional and psychological significance of what we are currently experiencing. While it is extremely important to focus on our physical health during this time such as washing our hands regularly, maintain social distance, boosting our immune systems, it is equally important to focus on our emotional health. There is a direct link between our emotional state and our physical health, with stress, anxiety and depression being proven to weaken our immune systems.
So how do we manage our mental health during the lockdown period? Here are some tips and ideas:
- Do not panic. Stay calm and get reliable information to understand what is happening around you. Be aware of what is within your control during this time and what is not in your control.
- Stay informed through reliable resources such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) http://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019; locally the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD)http://nicd.ac.za; Twitter:@HealthZA; and Coronavirus Hotline: 0800 029 999.
- Limit media and social media coverage as this can create fear and anxiety.
- Find things that you enjoy doing and that can keep you busy (reading, painting, dancing, cooking).
- Maintain a daily routine.
- Stay connected with loved ones via phone calls, video calls, social media.
- Get moving! Exercise helps you feel good, be creative and find ways to exercise in confined spaces. There are a lot of apps that can help with this.
- Get lots of sleep, our bodies need more sleep and rest when we are stressed
- Take care of your body, take deep breaths, stretch, and/or learn to meditate.
- Be conscious of those around you, help out. Help those with no food if you can, offer assistance to a vulnerable neighbour or family member.
- Practice kindness and compassion for yourself. This is a challenging time and it is ok to not be ok. Recognize when you need a break.
- If you are experiencing prolonged feelings of nervousness, anxiousness, or sadness, or you want to speak to a neutral person about what you are feeling, seek professional assistance. There are many online resources available and many psychologists are offering online counselling sessions.