Thursday 17 June 2021
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Mental health + Coronavirus =/= disaster

The government is telling us to stay at home and only go outside for food, health reasons or essential work, to stay two metres (six feet) away from other people and wash our hands as soon as we get home.


One week in and we are already losing our minds. Why ? Because this mean that more of us will be spending a lot more time at home and most of our regular social activities will not be available to us.


It further means that we have to adopt a different rhythm of life. We will have a chance to be in touch with others in different ways than usual face-to-face interaction.


The Patriot spoke to clinical psychologist to get insights on ways to protect one’s mental health. Jumping right into it, Cynthia Beukes revealed that the nation is gripped in fear and interestingly enough, it’s the Millennials.


Beukes explains that Millennials are struggling to come to terms with Covid-19, mainly because they fear that their aging parents may get infected and they would have no one to look after them, should their parents die.


Marriages are also increasingly under strain, she says because couples are not used to spend so much time with each other and “feel boxed in”.


Boredom is another problem, she highlights as people are at home with not enough to do. This leads to a feeling of listlessness and a lack of motivation.

Beukes recommends that people retain a sense of normalcy, and plan their days with intent. Stick to a schedule, get up even its now later than normal, bath and have breakfast and then engage in some activity.


Remaining online, sloughing in a leisure chair does very little for your emotional and mental well being, says Beukes. Off course, it is natural if you are that way inclined but do not make this your sole hobby. In Namibia, we are privileged enough with Government allowing walks, running for exercise and cycling in the time of lockdown. So, get out and get some exercise done.


Try reading more or watching movies, having an exercise routine, trying new relaxation techniques, or finding new knowledge on the internet.


If you are the workaholic type, take some time out for an afternoon nap if there are no Zoom meetings to attend. Making an allowance for rest in the middle of the day will not swing the universe of its pendulum. Remember there is much to gain from a new experience and for some of your, sleeping a bit more can be a new experience.


Try to avoid speculation and look up reputable sources on the outbreak and follow hygiene advice such as washing your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds with soap and hot water (sing ‘happy birthday’ to yourself twice to make sure you do this for 20 seconds). You should do this whenever you get home or into work, blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food. If you can’t wash your hands straightaway, use hand sanitiser and then wash them at the next opportunity.


“At times of stress, we work better in company and with support.

Stay in touch with friends on social media but try not to sensationalise things. If you are sharing content, use this from trusted sources, and remember that your friends are probably worried too.


Also remember to regularly assess your social media activity. Are there certain accounts or people who increase your worry or anxiety levels? Consider muting or unfollowing accounts or hashtags that cause you to feel anxious,” says psychologist Garret van Niekerk said.


Involving our family and children in our plans for good health is essential. We need to be alert to and ask children what they have heard about the outbreak and support them, without scaring alarm.


“We need to minimise the negative impact it has on our children and explain the facts to them. Discuss the news with them but try and avoid over-exposure to news and conversations about the virus. Be as honest as possible.


Let’s not avoid the ‘scary topic’ but engage in a way that is appropriate for them.”


It is OK to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed as we read news about the outbreak, especially if you have experienced trauma or a mental health problem in the past, or if you have a long-term physical health condition that makes you more vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus.


It’s important to acknowledge these feelings and remind each other to look after our physical and mental health. We should also be aware of and avoid increasing habits that may not be helpful in the long term, like smoking and drinking.

And if you at any time feel like you have some of the Covid-19 symptoms, call 0800 100 100. There will be someone available who can take you through a couple of questions.



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