10 Steps to ensure Mental Health Wellness during ‘lockdown’

The thought of enduring a country-wide lockdown for 21days (or more) naturally brings with it a large dose of anxiety. Some of us will be in lockdown with our families which is wonderful in many ways… but children who are home-bound for any period of time will become more irritable their siblings, frustrated with their surroundings and test us in many ways. Moms will have shorter fuses, naturally taking on the strain of what is happening in our nation, also feeling stifled by the lack of external input, as well as exhausted by having our kids on top of and around us allllllll day long. Not to mention the unusual dynamic of having Dad/hubby around 24/7! In most cases Dads are just not used to being home for this amount of time, and it’s not likely to be smooth sailing for the duration of this isolation period, for anyone. All round we are unified in facing something we’ve never faced before. Many of us are going to be heavily impacted financially by this lockdown, and that brings with it its own stress. Others of us are preparing to isolate alone, with no one to share this time with, and days will be very long. Each of us is going to cope with this in our own ways, and it’s really important that we do our very best to keep mentally strong & positive.

Laken Folster is a counselling psychologist who has very kindly shared some helpful advice on how to maintain a healthy mental state during this lockdown, how to cope and get through this with a positive mindset:

  1. Try your best to stick to a routine in your home environment, and if you have kids, try and get them into a ‘normal’ routine as well. Make sure that you keep time in your schedule for work (which you may have to tag team with your partner), as well as self care (exercise, painting, reading, etc). For kids, don’t over think it. Allow them free play time, snack time, school time/learning time (if required by school). Routine will help to create a sense of security – we feel like life is manageable and we are in control when we have a routine. Kids also feel a sense of certainty that comes with routine.
  2. Get up and get dressed – do not stay in your pj’s all day. Make sure that you look the way you want to feel during this time. The way we ‘image’ ourselves during this time will most definitely have an impact on the way we feel and subsequently our level of productivity. If you have kids, they also need to benefit from good examples. They will look at you, and what they see will become a reflection of what they feel and choose to internalize.
  3. Reach out to others on social media/online platforms – do not isolate yourself entirely from those around you. Spend at least 30 minutes per day connecting with others (not in person). Any applications which allow for FaceTime are great and can be used effectively. Some people have used this as an opportunity to think creatively, and have wholeheartedly accepted the challenge of playing games and eating meals with those that are far away on social media platforms. You are not the only one’s going through this and a sense of connection and community can help you to feel less isolated.
  4. Find some time to be outside each and every day. Vitamin D is extremely important for your emotional well being. Did you know that Vitamin D is known to boost levels of energy? Low levels of Vitamin D is also associated with depression, anxiety, seasonal affective disorder and other mental health challenges. The key here is to get outside, and get happy!
  5. Exercise – I can’t highlight this enough. Get moving, for at least 30minutes per day- Get the kids involved too!! There is a strong link, based on research; between mood, stress and exercise. Studies show improved mood and reduced stress levels when at least 30min of exercise is conducted. And no, you do not need to run a marathon to reap the benefits. Get creative!
  6. Self-care – we cannot pour from an empty cup. Make sure that you set some time aside for yourself each day, to do something just for you, that you enjoy. Don’t feel pressure in this regard, keep it simple. For example, a lovely long foam bath might do the trick.
  7. Remain calm -this is important! Do this not only for yourself, but also for your loved ones (and perhaps those little people watching your every move). Anxiety and panic breeds anxiety and panic. Scary thoughts lead to scary feelings – so let’s stay positive and believe that everything is going to be okay. Try and think of things that can assist you or ‘distract’ you during times where you begin to feel overwhelmed- Write a list and keep it next to your bed (use it when you need it).

If you are really struggling, seek some professional help. It’s okay to reach out if you need it.

  1. Be patient and kind with those whom you love. Emotions are usually heightened during times like this – couple that with been cooped up together for 21 days and BOOM- Remember to give each other the benefit of the doubt, to look at understanding and empathizing with those around you. Be gentle with yourself and others, and at times, if you need to, lower your expectations. Go out of your way to be thoughtful and understanding. Accept that everyone will be doing their best. Consider writing down a few expectations for your kids or partner during this time, and share then with them in love. Remember, everyone will have good days, and everyone will have bad days. Be supportive on all the days and remember- you may at times have to ‘let it go’.
  2. Children may act out during this time, behavioural problems may occur- Be gentle and kind. Remember that their world has also been turned upside down. Children may not always overtly express their feelings or concerns, but are likely to demonstrate this in their behaviour. Watch them, what they do, how they play; They are communicating with you.
  3. Eat well, drink lots (of water, not just wine ;)). Healthy body- healthy mind!

We are entering an unknown and trying space for the next couple of weeks, but despite the ‘lockdown’, one need not be isolated in seeking assistance should they need it- even if for the simple purpose of having time to focus on oneself, to further grow and develop.

Laken is available for online sessions during this time. Please contact her at laken@counsellingpsychologist.co.za if you have any questions, comments, or would like to book a session. I hope that this has been helpful.

Website: www.counsellingpsychologist.co.za

Stay well, stay safe and be responsible.

Author: Shan Fourie

Shan Fourie is a busy mom of three, based in Ballito, and is a full-time lifestyle blogger/Content Creator. With over 14 years of experience in marketing, Shan began blogging in 2018, and embarked into full-time content creation in 2021. Shan uses her platform to share brands, businesses as well as to raise awareness and funds for causes and initiatives close to her heart. Somewhat of an activist, Shan has helped bring people together for multiple causes, including A21 Walk for Freedom, multiple Bone Marrow & Blood drives, a peaceful protest to stop NetCare Alberlito from closing its paeds ward, as well as other movements she is passionate about. Her biggest focus this year is on raising funds, alongside The Rise Up Movement, for a GBV safe house in Kwadukuza, along with a lab for facilitating rape-kits on site, instead of having to send them to Pretoria. Shan is an official Ambassador for (a) The SA Bone Marrow Registry, (b) the Red Movement (a movement intent on eradicating period poverty), and (c) and a partner of the Rise Up Movement - an NPO that stands against GBV, Child abuse, and Human Trafficking. Shan was a Mrs South Africa 2022 finalist, 2023 CANSA ambassador for Mrs South Africa, and Discovery Bank was her gold sponsor. Shan is also the official Wellness influencer for Gateway Theatre of Shopping and The Pencil Club Umhlanga. Shan believes that wellness is all-encompassing - mental, physical and emotional. She believes it is important to keep your life clean of toxicity. Self-care is super important to her.

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