Healthy ways to cope with lockdown

Trauma counsellor Anna Els.

If lockdown has you stressed, feeling trapped and wildly plotting your divorce while on a feeding frenzy, take a deep breath.

Anna Els, a Muizenberg police station trauma counsellor, says all of the above is an understandable response to an extraordinary situation.

The Covid-19 pandemic and resultant lockdown create an unprecedented high-stress period for the entire country, she says. But you needn’t actually divorce. Or comfort eat.

There are healthy ways to make it through this time.

“We are all in unsure situations,” she says.

According to a paper published in The Lancet, a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal, a number of studies on the effect of quarantine documented negative psychological effects, including post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion, and anger.

Particular stressors include longer quarantine duration, infection fears, frustration, boredom, inadequate supplies, inadequate information, financial loss, and stigma. The Covid-19 outbreak has seen many countries enforce quarantines to reduce the risk of contagion.

In one study cited in The Lancet, quarantined hospital staff were significantly more likely to report exhaustion, detachment from others, anxiety when dealing with febrile patients, irritability, insomnia, poor concentration and indecisiveness, deteriorating work performance, and reluctance to work or consideration of resignation.

In another study, the effect of being quarantined was a predictor of post-traumatic stress symptoms in hospital employees even three years later.

So a 21-day lockdown requires some planning for psychological and emotional wellness.

Ms Els says it is our responsibility to stay sane and safe; and we need to keep others safe too.

“Not everyone has a safe house and nice garden to use, some people are crammed into small areas. But in either situation the stress of the unknown can result in relationship issues flaring up,” she says.

She suggests making lists of things that can be done each day, and make each day different.

Assign tasks to each family member so while at home together everybody helps tidy the house or make dinner.

She suggests letting a different family member choose the movie to watch together each night.

“Have a quizz night, work in the garden together, do something constructive to break the routine and create time to connect meaningfully with each other.

“Choose to do fun things, take a free online course. Be creative with your time. Use this time to reflect on your life and what you want to create in it.”

Various companies have made books, shows and tours freely available until the end of May to encourage people to stay home and prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Find free audio books from Amazon in six languages at:

Pay virtual visits to 17 European museums: .

There are 700 free books from Cambridge press at:

And find Broadway shows at:

Visit for a list of free book sources and for an audio recording of his World’s Worst Children short stories.

Ms Els says the lockdown will be a strain on those who have mental health issues as they try to cope with the changes in routine and that family and friends ought to be conscious of this and help them through it.

She is available for phone or Skype calls to help you through any difficulties or fears. Call her at 073 355 6807.