Dr Sheri Fanaroff, family physician, shares some mental health tips for adults during the Covid-19 pandemic. Take a look at what the experts have to say on the subject.

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Dr Sheri Fanaroff has penned some expert advice on how to handle mental health issues during the Covid-19 lockdown. Take a look at what this family physician has to say on the matter below:

With South Africa having claimed its spot as the third-fastest growing epidemic worldwide, and Gauteng at the epicentre with exponential growth, many of us are feeling anxious.

What if I get infected? What if my parents/children/family/friends get sick and need hospitalisation?

Dr Sheri Fanaroff explains how to look after your mental health during these difficult times. Image: GCIS
Source: UGC

Common reasons for current anxiety :

•    Anticipatory anxiety about what might come

•    Anxiety about oneself or one’s loved ones being infected

•    Stigma around testing positive

•    Personal financial concerns

•    Worries about economic stability

Reasons for anxiety during quarantine and isolation:

It can be stressful to be separated from others if you have Covid or if you were exposed to Covid. It is especially difficult to have to isolate from your family and support systems.

Emotional reactions that can occur during quarantine or isolation include:

•    Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones.

•    Stress from the experience of monitoring yourself – am I feeling short of breath? Is my oxygen level OK? Is my fever too high?

•    Worry about needing to go to hospital.

•    Sadness, anger or frustration because friends or loved ones are afraid of getting the disease from you.

•    Guilt about not being able to perform normal parenting and work duties because you are sick or in quarantine.

•    Feelings of loneliness.

•    Depression.

Strategies to reduce anxiety during lockdown:

•    Try to eat, drink and sleep properly.

•    Try to think about and use strategies that have helped in the past to cope with stressful situations.

•    Do some physical activity preferably daily, or at least three times weekly.

•    Maintain a good routine, even if you are at home – get dressed in the morning, have set times for work, housework and relaxation. Eat at a table.

•    Plan regular activities that you enjoy.

•    Try to limit the time you spend reading about Covid, listening to the news and on social media. Find a balance between keeping informed and not becoming overwhelmed.

•    Find a reliable source of information and check your facts on reputable websites or with your doctor.

•    Deliberately spend time engaging with tasks that take your mind away from the current crisis. Distract yourself from current worries by focusing your mind on something else.

•    Have breaks and time away from your phone and electronics.

•    Stay in touch with friends and family – if you can’t see them, make time for regular phone calls, Zoom sessions or video calls.

•    Focus on what is in your control – you can control your own actions but not those of others. For example, when you go to the shops, you can’t control what others do, but you can keep distance, wear your mask and wash your hands well before and afterwards.

•    Focus on what you do know as opposed to what you don’t. For example, you do know that most people who get the virus will have mild symptoms; you don’t know if you’ll get it.

•    Be kind to yourself and to others.

•    Offer others help and support where you can – it is good for your own anxiety.

•    If you feel overwhelmed, get support. Reach out to family and friends. Contact your doctor or a psychologist for counselling and support if you are not coping.

•    Remember that you are not alone in this situation- most of the world is going through a similar experience.

•    Keep your perspective – the epidemic will end and this won’t last forever.

As we enter this challenging time of rising infections, some anxiety is normal. Take things day by day – we will all get through this together.

Stay well, safe, distanced, masked and sanitised. Your GPs are here to help you!