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Mental well-being – coping mechanisms during these unprecedented times

The global outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused a lot of uncertainty, stress and fear as South Africans spend time in lockdown to try and flatten the curve and combat the spread of the virus.

While these feelings may be normal and understandable, given the unprecedented nature of the situation, we all need to look after our mental well-being and learn how to cope with the added stress that the national lockdown may bring.

Our thoughts, actions and emotions are all interconnected and can influence one another, so it is important to stay calm. Here are some helpful tips to help you cope during this time:

  1. Take it one day at a time – know that this time will pass.
  2. Maintain your normal routine and look after yourself and your family. Eat well, stay active and get adequate rest.
  3. Continue to connect with family and friends, especially if you are separated from your loved ones during the lockdown. Acknowledge your feelings – talking to your loved ones may help you feel better.
  4. Learn and practice simple relaxation techniques, like breathing exercises and meditation.
  5. Employ coping skills that nurture your spirit such as praying, exercise and journaling.
  6. The sudden and near-constant stream of news reports can cause anyone to feel anxious or distressed. Restrict media and social media browsing and only access information from credible sources such as the World Health Organization, the South African Government website and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.
  7. Also, try and limit the amount of times you consume news by only looking for information updates at specific times during the day (once or twice daily).
  8. Find things to keep you busy. Do things you enjoy like cooking, baking, reading, listening to music and watching your favourite shows. This can help lift your mood.
  9. For those with children, engage them and keep them busy with creative activities that are relevant to their ages. These can include reading, drawing and playing games, puzzles and board games.
  10. Be kind to yourself and others.

You may have other questions about your mental well-being and how to deal with certain situations during the lockdown, for more information, view our Frequently Asked Questions.

Know that you are not alone – we are all in this together.

Do you feel like you are not coping and need to speak to someone? Contact your company’s employee-wellness provider or the South African Depression and Anxiety Group’s (SADAG) 24-hour mental health helpline on 0800 456 789 or via WhatsApp on 076 882 2775 between 9am to 5pm. If you have a friend or family member you can trust, you can also speak to them about your feelings or concerns.

For more information about Life Mental Health units or where to find help click here.


Source: Information supplied by Jabu Nosipho Masitha, a counselling psychologist. Jabu completed her Masters degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and holds a Post Graduate Certificate in Community Psychology practice from the University of Johannesburg. She has worked at the Centre for the Study of Violence & Reconciliation (CSVR). Jabu is passionate about trauma counselling, and she led the project when there were multiple deaths of miners during the protracted strike in Marikana and trained the community on emotional support as well as provided support to the widows.


The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a healthcare professional. E&OE. Life Healthcare Group Ltd does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage suffered by the reader as a result of the information provided.