Coping During Covid-19: Awareness of your mental health

Chaos, cancellations, caution and change, these are just some of the words that come to mind when we think of the Covid-19 global pandemic.

Knowing and being able to identify signs of stress in terms of behavioural, physical, emotional, and cognitive responses is important. The signs may include:
  • Increased alcohol and/or tobacco use, or use of illegal drugs
  • Increased irritability with outbursts of anger and frequent arguing
  • Difficulty giving or accepting help
  • Having trouble relaxing or sleeping
  • Wanting to be alone most of the time. 

Once we are aware of the signs we are able to change our behaviour to cope better with living through a global pandemic. Here are some strategies to help us cope:

Limit screen time and get the facts- The news is important to remain updated on the situation, however, we should also turn it off and have a break to ensure we are taking time to focus on the things in our life that we can control. Use reliable sources that will allow you to determine the actual risk that is present. Sources such as the news, WHO (world health organization) and other legitimate news sources. Rumours and misinformation can cause unnecessary panic and worry. Bingeing a television series may be used to escape reality and in excess can lead to emotional numbing. This is not a healthy coping mechanism.     
Keep yourself healthy- Eating healthy and drinking enough water and vitamins is important. Exercise and moving your muscles have many mental health benefits –it enhances your mood, it can also help to alleviate long-term depression and anxiety symptoms. Healthy behaviour also includes giving your body sufficient sleep and rest and avoiding excessive amounts of alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. The bans may have been lifted, but the virus is still present.

Stick to a routine- Maintaining your daily routine as much as possible will assist you to make full use of your day. Specifically, if you are working from home, remember to take your breaks and engage in a routine that works for you.

Pay attention to your feelings- It is normal to feel sad, stressed, confused or angry during this time. Recognise the early signs and acknowledge your feelings. Connecting with others in your home or even virtually with friends and family to enjoy conversation unrelated to the pandemic is important. Take time to meditate and relax by eating a good meal, reading a book or simply listening to music.

Manage Covid-19 expectations- We need to set realistic expectations by challenging unrealistic ones. We have to accept that things will be different and embrace the idea that life can still be good. For example, Instead of: “Things will be back to normal soon”. Try: “The future might look different and that’s okay”.
We have all had to make changes in different aspects of our life during this global pandemic. We can learn a lot from slowing down and decide which changes we wish to take forward with us. Maybe this slower pace is not such a bad thing after all. It is easy to get caught up in our fears and concerns but it is important to take a breath and remember “we’re standing far apart now so we can embrace each other later”.

If you still feel that you are not coping you should seek mental health services and speak to a Clinical/Counselling Psychologist.
Kiara Sunder, Clinical Psychologist
HPCSA No: PS 0143480


Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is provided by the SPAR Group Ltd for general information purposes only. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.