It is often said that it’s OK to speak to plants, but you should be worried if the plants seem to speak back to you. Director of Valour Mental Wellness in Francistown, Charlotte Siya, recently reiterated this and advised members of the public to prioritise their mental wellbeing during the lockdown.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought distress and stress for many people, most of who are struggling to be distanced from their usual daily routines and loved ones, as well as panic over strained economic and social prospects. Siya said all this could have a negative impact on the mind. She pointed out that as much as this could be a good time for self-introspection, such periods could also instigate or aggravate mental health conditions such as depression.
“Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming, causing strong emotions in adults and children. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations and how one responds to the outbreak can depend on their background, the things that make them different from other people, and the community they live in,” she said. Siya further said that people who may respond strongly to the stress of the crisis include those at higher risk of COVID-19, people who are working on the frontlines such as healthcare workers and first responders, as well as people who have mental health conditions including problems with substance abuse.
Siya said mental wellness encompasses a greater part of holistic health. She suggested steps that many could take to support themselves during lockdown. “Limit watching news, reading unverified information on social media or listening too much to stories of how bad things are because this can be upsetting and stressful and also lead to physical pains such as terrible headaches and body aches.”
She also said that taking care of the body is also important. “Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol and drugs. Make time to unwind and do activities that you enjoy. “Also find time to connect with others and talk to people you trust about your concerns. Not everyone is going to use this time to make a major breakthrough but resting and taking time from our daily activities can help us come out stronger,” she said.
Conflicts often arise during such periods of tension, isolation or forced containment and Siya said people could try and use their time and energy constructively and positively. She said communication is the best policy. “Couples and family members can use this time to talk and iron out issues. It is unavoidable for people to not have a misunderstanding when spending time together but it is important to talk about it. “For those who struggle with this, I suggest connecting with friends or engaging organisations with professionals equipped to help with conflict resolution.”