If you know me, you’ll know I come from a family of small business owners. Growing up I watched my parents start 12 businesses. My dad has 40+ years in the construction industry, but my mom, Elise Beeby, stems from a different tree. She’s one of the most highly regarded clinical psychologists in South Africa and is the founder of a boutique psychiatric clinic called Palm Tree Clinic.
There’s no doubt that COVID-19 is impacting our mental health. So I asked my mom for tips and tools to help people combat anxiety and take care of their mental wellness during this crisis.
COVID-19 Mental Health Toolbox
(1) Maintain a daily routine.
(2) Start a journal and journal on a daily basis.
(3) Be watchful of the time you spend on social media and viewing the news. If you spend too much time on these activities, it can preoccupy your mind with negative thoughts and bring on anxiety or worse, panic attacks. Focus on facts, not fiction or rumors.
(4) Keep your own calendar for the COVID-19 lock-down period and tick off daily tasks and reward yourself!
(5) Be mindful of your thoughts and feelings, and let them pass. Much like oncoming traffic, acknowledge that COVID-19 is scary and then let the thought pass.
(6) Be conscious of your breathing. Is it relaxed or is it shallow and heightened? Use a deep breathing exercise and stretches to help reduce your anxiety and bring your breath back to normal.
(7) Plant positive thoughts in your mind. Compile a list of positive affirmations that you repeat to yourself, twice daily. When negative thoughts arise, remember to ask yourself “How do these thoughts help me?” Focus on being proactive and having a solution based mindset.
(8) Now is a great time to catch up on things, like sleep, and build good habits. Go to sleep at the same time every evening and wake up the same time every morning. Defocus by listening to relaxing music, reading a book or using a mediation app.
(9) Keep communication channels open with your friends and family. Combat loneliness by engaging with them through Facetime, Zoom, Google Meets or other tools where you can share each other's faces and expressions.
(10) Prevent cabin fever by keeping yourself busy. Watch feel-good movies and keep yourself busy with activities you enjoy. Avoid boredom and substance abuse. Study further or get those house chores, like cleaning the closet, you never have time for.
(11) Recognize what’s in your control and what’s not. Take back your power by not investing all your time into COVID-19. Recognize that it could happen to any of us and you are doing your best to prevent it and your best is good enough!
(12) Join online support groups. If you need more support, seek out online and telecommunication counselling sessions
(13) If you have a pet, hug or pat your animal friend to minimize social distancing.
(14) Know and keep all your important phone numbers in an easily accessible place.
(15) Nurture yourself. Do 2 or 3 basic things daily just for you.
(16) Maintain a balanced healthy lifestyle despite the lock-down. Cook and eat healthy, be social by completing puzzles, playing games or starting a book club with someone else.
(17) Keep a lookout for silver linings. For example, getting to spend more time with our kids or a loved one. Things will normalize and before we know it we’ll be back in the rat race. Cherish the moments we always wished we had more time for and now do.
Viktor Frankl is famous for saying When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. COVID-19 has not only done that, but it's also challenged us to rethink the way we work with others.
Take care of yourself and each other,
Co-founder of Level