If you have a compromised immune system or a medical condition you’re worried about, speak to your doctor for more specific guidance on your treatment. Picture: Supplied
If you have a compromised immune system or a medical condition you’re worried about, speak to your doctor for more specific guidance on your treatment. Picture: Supplied

5 ways people living with mental illness can cope during lockdown

By IOL Supplied Time of article published Mar 30, 2020

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Coronavirus is causing anxiety, panic and unrest across the globe with new guidelines and recommendations being published and changed frequently. It is dominating press headlines, it's all over the TV and radio, it's what everyone is talking about – it's hard to escape it.

South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) operations director, Cassey Chambers said in the coming days and weeks, plans and strategies will change with the virus’ course. 

“Our fear and anxiety will likely increase and our lives will continue to be disrupted. However, just as the country has taken the necessary precautions to ensure everyone’s safety – by adopting some of the tips and tools – we can make sure to look after our own mental health during this time too. 

“In a world that seems pretty scary at the moment, knowing what you can do, can help you feel a little more in control of what is happening in your life today,” said Chambers.

For many people living with a mental health issue, the current situation may be worsening or intensifying symptoms, so it is important to take extra care during this time with more support and self care steps to ensure your mental wellness.

If you have a compromised immune system or a medical condition you’re worried about, speak to your doctor for more specific guidance on your treatment.

If you're in therapy, speak to your therapist about alternative or online sessions. If you have a scheduled appointment with a psychologist or psychiatrist, do not cancel due to fear of exposure. Call the practice and ask what their new protocol or alternative plans are as many are offering online sessions.

Avoid searching online, media sourcing or having conversations throughout the day around the virus as this will cause increased anxiety that may lead to panic. Again – filter what you are reading, watching and exposing yourself too, especially since it can be very negative and scary. 

Try to set specific times to check for updates – but rather spend more time that could be adding value to your wellness such as doing things that you enjoy, doing more relaxation and stress relieving activities

Don’t use smoking, alcohol or other drugs to deal with your emotions. If you feel overwhelmed, talk to your mental health professional, counsellor, family or friend. Have a plan, where to go to and how to seek help for physical and mental health needs if required.

Use online tools, online forums, helpful websites and online support to help you through this time – try a new app that helps to manage your sleep, or provides mindfulness techniques, listen to a meditation podcast, etc. 

And if you need ideas – speak to a friend, ask your family or visit www.sadag.org. 

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