‘It is a difficult time for everyone’

Mental health is a huge problem during the lockdown.

As the country remains in lockdown, albeit with eased restrictions, many people, especially those with mental illnesses, will be feeling more psychological strain, but there are things you can do to help you cope.

While routines and schedules are good, clinical psychologist Charity Mkone, from the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag), says too much over-planning can create extra pressure, especially for those with mental-health issues.

Take it one day at a time, and don’t over-plan your daily schedules, she says.

It’s a difficult time for people with mental-health issues, as Covid-19 has created a lot of uncertainty that can aggravate anxiety, Ms Mkone says.

It is important to know what is in and out of your control, she says. And the number of infections, consequences of the lockdown and the duration of the lockdown are beyond it. “It is a difficult time for everyone, and although it may feel personal, we are in this together, and it is affecting everyone globally. It is not geared towards anyone in particular, and all we can do now is to keep safe and to listen and obey government’s regulations for the lockdown.”

Ms Mkone says it is important to have down time to switch off from the news and reports about Covid-19.

Clinical psychologist Viwe Dweba advises living each day intentionally to counter anxiety brought on by the unusual nature of the lockdown – get out of bed, make your bed and get out of your pyjamas, and stick to a routine by continuing to work from home, if possible.

Take care of your body, she says, because physical health is linked to mental health.

Your surroundings can also affect your mood. “Keep your home clean and do laundry. Sunshine is a natural mood lifter, so open your windows and your curtains.”.

Ms Dweba also recommends talking to friends regularly through video calls, messaging and phone calls.