Make your mental health a priority
As we return to the workplace or go out shopping for essential items, we are asked to sanitise and checked for COVID-19 symptoms. Many of us are also monitoring ourselves for possible flu symptoms. However, are we keeping track of how we are doing mentally and emotionally?
Health and well-being include how we are coping emotionally, how we are dealing with uncertainty, fear, and anxiety, and the ability to perform everyday tasks.
As many people return to their place of work and learners start returning to the classroom, it is essential that we empower ourselves by doing everything we can to prevent getting the Coronavirus. This include wearing cloth masks, wash hands often, and keeping 1,5 m from others. It is equally important to consider how you are doing emotionally and mentally.
Do you feel down, depressed or hopeless? Do you often feel irritable, anxious or fearful? Do you have trouble falling or staying asleep? Do you experience poor appetite or are you overeating? During a crisis like the Covid-19 global pandemic, feeling overwhelmed, anxious or confused is normal. If you answered yes to one or two of the questions above, you might need more support to process and deal with how you are feeling.
It is important to seek support when you notice that emotions or certain behaviours impact your day to day functioning and your ability to complete your daily tasks.
Being caring is important
There is no shame in reaching out for support if you are struggling to cope. There is also no shame in being tested for Covid-19 or testing positive for Covid-19. Anyone can get Covid-19.
Keep in mind that with good rest, drinking enough water and using Paracetamol for pain or fever, most people who get Covid-19 will only have mild symptoms and will be able to recover at home.
If someone tells you they have Covid-19 and you respond in a supportive way, that person is more likely to seek medical help if their condition deteriorates. The person will also be more likely to tell the people in their household that they have contracted Covid-19, and the family can then take the necessary precautions to protect themselves.
Consider how you talk about people who have Covid-19. The words you choose to use can be hurtful and create fear and anxiety. Remember, you could be next. Choose words that are understanding, supportive, and helpful. Anyone can get Covid-19 – it does not discriminate against race, age, gender, or where you live or work.
Simple ways you can boost your mental health include:
- Acknowledging your feelings and trying to remain in the present moment, rather than dwelling on what could possibly happen or go wrong;
- Talking to your employer if you are concerned about losing your job or if you need more flexible working hours to take care of your family. Ask about wellness programmes where you can get additional support;
- Creating a routine and sticking to it – even over weekends;
- Staying in contact with family and friends by using your telephone;
- Keeping physically active. Go for a walk and play with your children;
- Getting enough rest and engage in relaxing activities;
- Limiting the time you spend watching the news and patrol social media.
If you are concerned about your own mental well-being or a friend’s, reach out to your healthcare worker, a counsellor at your place of worship or organisations like the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (www.sadag.org) and Lifeline (www.lifeline.co.za).
You can support others in this time by making sure the information you share, is accurate and from a trustworthy source like Western Cape Government Health. Respect other people’s information and avoid exposing people who you think may have COVID-19 on social media platforms. By staying in touch over the phone with people who are in quarantine or isolation you can help them stay connected.
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