• Alisha & Almaza

3 Expert tips on looking after your mental health during lockdown

The virus has completely dominated conversations across every ‘chat group’, social media platform and conference call. Where we were a few weeks ago: thinking about work, how to stop the dogs from barking at 7am, getting kids to school and buying umtine presents for birthday party dominated weekends - are but a distant memory. While we can acknowledge that Covid-19 is a real life experience, we as human beings (I believe!) have the ability to either easily adapt to the current situation or struggle to adapt. Everyone has different circumstances, different environments and as such we thought it would be helpful to look into ways to take care of our inner (mental) self.

We spoke with Specialist Psychiatrist, Dr Thriya Ramasar (MBChB, FCPSYCH (SA), MMED (Psychiatry), Certificate in Medicine and Law) to reflect on how a global pandemic could impact our mental health - Also, how do we keep sane? While we are all generally caught up in conversations and theories, she says that we have to remember that most of us are having a very normal reaction to an abnormal, completely unprecedented situation. “The anxiety and stress we feel is okay, but we still need to ensure that the stress we feel and the stress we place on ourselves is not overwhelming”, said Dr Ramasar. She’s provided the below three tips to help keep our anxiety and stress under control:

1. Challenge your mindset

Instead of thinking, ‘Why is this happening to me, I can’t cope’, think ‘I will do the best I can under the circumstance’. These positive affirmations give you a positive challenge which leads to good stress and a rush of oxygen to your brain which helps you be more productive.

2. Name your emotions

‘Emotions need motion’, when you name a feeling, even fear, it flows through you and you are no longer a victim to it.

3. Take a ‘moment of pause’

Take a break using (for example) deep breathing which helps you clam yourself and regulates your emotions.

Check up on your friends, see how they’re doing. You never know who may need this advice. So the next time you feel like you may be heading towards a breakdown just remember that we are all in this together. We will get through this.