Expert advice on how to avoid feeling depressed during lockdown

Expert advice on how to avoid feeling depressed during lockdown

Registered Clinical Psychologist, Itai Propheta, shares tips on how to safeguard your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic.

Woman wearing mask in isolation at home
Woman wearing mask in isolation at home/ iStock

The world is facing a global pandemic which has led to the shedding of jobs for millions of people. 

Experts predict that there will be more deaths and job losses in the coming months until a solution to the pandemic has been found. This has led to many people feeling fearful and uncertain about their futures.

READ: 'One in four South African employees diagnosed with depression'

Itai Propheta, a registered Clinical Psychologist, warns that people need to take care of their mental health to avoid depression and putting themselves at risk of falling sick. 

"We have all heard of the saying 'a healthy mind in a healthy body'," says the psychologist.

"During this difficult time, it is more important than ever that we focus on maintaining both our minds and our bodies."

He says this is because being stressed can put your health at risk. 

"Stress has been shown to cause several health conditions and during lockdown, we are at a greater risk of feeling stressed and of failing to maintain our physical and mental well-being. Therefore, it is important to remember that looking after your body by eating well, exercising, and staying hydrated is as important as looking after your mental well-being," he says. 

Itai adds that it is important for people to connect with family and friends using available means, and to share their feelings with those they trust while accessing mental health support when they need it. 

The clinical psychologist says because people are social by nature, not being allowed to socialise can be a great challenge. 

“This is a very difficult time in South Africa and around the world. People are being asked to stay at home in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Unfortunately, this brings with it a whole array of other problems. Humans are by nature social species and being asked to stay at home, often in small spaces and with lots of people, is very challenging."

Apart from the challenge of not being able to socialise, Itai says the current economical status can lead to depression and anxiety.

“The economic difficulties faced by many people in this country also bring with it many challenges. The mental health challenges have been noted by various parts of the media and health professionals. During this time, the risk of developing mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, is increased and there are several things that people can do to manage this risk.”

In order to avoid feeling depressed, Itai gives the following guide:

- It is important to maintain a daily routine to try and bring some normalcy to your day. Things such a sleeping well, eating healthily, exercising, and staying hydrated can go a long way to improving your mental health.

- We are being overwhelmed with information from the media and social media channels and it is important to limit how much media you consume during the day, and where you get your information from. Try and obtain information from credible sources and limit your daily information intake.

- Staying connected to friends and family using technology may also help lift your mood. Talking to people about the things that are worrying you can be helpful.

- There are also several telehealth services which you can access in order to get some help should you be struggling. Many psychologists are offering online therapy through video chat platforms. There are also call centres who offer counselling and support such as SADAG and Lifeline (SADAG - 011 234 4837, Lifeline – 011 728 1347).

READ: Can the excessive use of social media lead to depression?

Itai also urges people to use the lockdown period to upskill. 

"In addition, setting some small goals can also help during this time (e.g. making your bed everyday). In addition, learning a new skill or doing something that you may not have had time for before can be challenging and exciting. Reading a new book, trying a new recipe, and listening to music are just some of the things that can help maintain positive emotions and thoughts during this difficult time," he says. 

READ: SADAG urges parents to talk about depression with their children

Image courtesy of iStock/ @LucaLorenzelli

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