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Experts advise South Africans to enjoy 'me time' amid coronavirus outbreak

People practice social distancing as they visit a park during the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters

People practice social distancing as they visit a park during the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease. Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters

Published Mar 22, 2020


Cape Town - South Africans are known to socialise, throw parties and attend huge social gatherings and sports events. But they have recently been advised to practise social distancing and self-isolate during the coronavirus pandemic.

Covid-19 is causing anxiety and panic across the globe with the increasing number of infections.

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Experts say it is just a phase in people’s lives that will soon be over, and are advising people to enjoy the “me time”.

Professor Basil Pillay, head of department of behavioural medicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said people needed to shift their thoughts to positive subjects.

Pillay said no studies on social distancing had been done locally, but social distancing had been studied from a mental health perspective.

“Social distancing is disruptive of normal activity and the normal routines that people follow. In this particular case it is mixed with the uncertainty and fear factors which heightens the issue around anxiety.

“After a little while people will feel anxious and even a bit depressed. Their moods will change, there will be frustration and boredom. This contributes to a person not feeling well,” said Pillay.

He said it was important to limit the amount of information you received.

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“There is a lot of information, by limiting it lessens one’s anxiety. There is also a lot of fake news going around, especially on social media. Limit the information but keep informed through proper sites like the World Health Organisation, National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the health department,” he said.

Pillay said while people were practising social isolation they could maintain relationships with loved ones and friends using online platforms and apps like FaceTime and Skype.

“During social isolation have a routine, particularly if you have children as they like activity. Structure helps to keep a person occupied and prevents boredom. Do things like watching good movies and programmes and playing board and educational games,” he said.

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Pillay warned that prolonged boredom and frustration could cause depression.

Take care of your mental health by focusing on more positive things, he advised. Exercise, reading and meditation were known to improve mental health.

Sunday Tribune

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