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Maintain your mental health during COVID-19

26 Jun 2020

By Dr Dominique Stott, Chief Medical Officer at Liberty

It has been more than three months since South Africa was confronted with the COVID-19 pandemic and since then many South African's have had to deal with uncomfortable ways of living. But while habits such as sanitisation and social distancing have become second nature, the effects of the pandemic are not only physical. The heightened uncertainty of the times we’re living in, extra precautionary measures for our physical safety and the longer-term effects of lockdown and isolation all take a toll on one's mind.

Liberty cares about your phyisical safety – including your mental safety

Here are some points to consider in terms of staying psychologically healthy during this difficult time.

Heightened anxiety

There are many South Africans who live with anxiety disorders – many undiagnosed. These are often characterised by a fear of being out of control, an inability to tolerate uncertainty, and worrying about the unknown. At a time like this when so much is beyond our control, it’s important to minimise additional uncertainty in our personal lives.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, or any other mental illness, it is important to check in with medical health professionals  to understand how they are making themselves available – especially since therapists and other professionals have likely ceased in-person meetings since the beginning of lockdown. Yet they may have home programmes and WhatsApp groups to support patients and help them manage the aspects of these disorders that are exacerbated by isolation, uncertainty and disruption to routine.

For those undiagnosed but still suffering the side effects listed above, it’s also a good idea to get in touch with a professional who can help you work through your feelings.

Technology will help your feeling lonely and alone

We are, by nature, social beings. Even those who appreciate more time alone have likely struggled with the isolating effects of lockdown.

During this time, try keep in regular contact with friends, family members, and co-workers. This pandemic has really opened our lives to the different ways we can use technology to keep in contact and in touch. You love your devices, now you can use them guilt free to keep in contact with people. So, facetime your family and friends, set up catch up video calls, perhaps even share a ‘virtual lunch’. Also, don’t be afraid to let family and friends know what you are going through, ask them for support and call on them if feelings like anxiety or depression are becoming unmanageable.

Eat well, get some sun and find ways to exercise

The healthier your body is, the healthier you are mentally. Preparing and eating nourishing food, 30 minutes of sunlight a day and staying hydrated are essential to maintaining our physical and mental well-being. Exercise at home where possible - there are many fun exercise programs that you can take up alternatively doing routine tasks such as housework or gardening really helps keep you active and engaged with what you loved doing before the pandemic.

Set up regular newsfeeds from reputable sources and balance this with other activities

During this time, it’s important to stay informed and aware of news updates. You don’t want to be the last person to find out that we’ve moved to a new lockdown stage. However, there’s a lot of fake news out there which will do nothing to soothe an already anxious state of mind. It’s important to choose the channels for this information carefully and defer to organisations such as WHO, NICD and Universities who have properly researched and vetted the information they publish.

Avoid additional stress by managing – and prioritising – your finances responsibly

Financial challenges are a reality for many during this time, with many sectors and companies severely challenged by the lockdown. If you own a small business, investigate how you can participate in the relief options available. If you have been affected by job losses or salary cuts speak to your financial services providers and enter into arrangements with them to maintain your credit rating and ensure that your policies remain active.

It's logical and understandable to cut expenses during this financially difficult time – just remember to prioritise. Especially with increased health risks abounding, it’s critical to maintain your medical scheme contributions, life insurance, income protection and disability premiums. If this is challenging, speak to your financial adviser and understand how you can better structure your portfolio. There may be flexibility on suspending some payments, for a period of time until you recover financially.

We’re here for you

Not sure how to cut costs to best survive this time, speaking to a financial adviser will help to manage your anxiety associated with your finances. Get in touch with your Liberty Financial Adviser for a plan well suited for your current budget, financial constraints and your goals and dreams.

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Liberty Group Limited (Reg. no 1957/002788/06) is a licensed Insurer and an Authorised Financial Services Provider (no 2409).

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