TEASA and Covid-19: Self-care and mental wellbeing
TEASA and Covid-19: Self-care and mental wellbeing People prefer always to be with other people, so it can be really hard on them to be forced by law not to meet. Social distancing has completely cut-off many from other meeting other people, their loved ones and their support structures. As a result, many feel powerless, fearful, sometimes angry or just stressed out by the fear of getting and spreading Covid-19 to loved ones. This may be worsened by government’s restrictive but necessary measures aimed at curbing the spread of this dangerous virus. Stress is the body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat we experience in our lives. The church community can bring relief and hope during this testing time by recognising and compassionately responding to the community’s physical and mental needs in a meaningful way.
Stress may also manifest in physical symptoms such as generalised body pains and aches, chest pain, rapid heart rate and or behavioural symptoms such as eating too much or too little, sleeping too much or too little and or using alcohol, cigarettes, or other forms of drugs to relax. The country has just entered the second phase of the lockdown with government announcing plans to ease some of the regulations implemented during the lockdown. Research has shown that in some instances people may also suffer from stress post a disaster and as such there is concern that there will be a spike in mental health problems after the lockdown and after the pandemic. If not attended to, stress has the potential to cause harm to our physical health and mental wellbeing.
The nationwide lockdown has affected all aspects of life, schools and places of worship/churches have shutdown, except essential services. Believers often wrongly assume that stress related ailments are due to unbelief, so they have no real plan to deal with them, except to urge congregation to believe harder. This guide aims to raise mental health awareness and to help congregants, the pastoral leadership to better understand mental health and wellbeing, as well as how to deal with them.
- What to do to reduce stress as individuals:
1.1 Maintain friendships and family relationships during this stressful time. Stay in touch with friends and people who matter to you by using social media, e-mail or on the phone.
1.2 It’s important to acknowledge these feelings of powerlessness and loss and to remind each other to look after our physical and mental health. Talk about your problems with people you trust, reach out to the church leadership and or to contact a helpline for emotional support. SMS 31393 or 32312 and a counsellor will call you back tis service is available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. See below for more contact details for South African Anxiety and Depression Group (SADAG).
1.3 Keep to your daily routine. This will help you feel grounded and focused on the things you can do if you feel able to eg respond to work emails, complete work/school assignements.
1.4 Manage your stress levels, it’s important to find a balance. eg if you find that the news is stressful, limit the time you spend listening to the news but try not to avoid all news as you need to keep informing and educating yourself.
1.5 Keep active, eat a well-balanced diet and remember to rest. Try and make the most of this new if unusual experience.
1.6 Hobbies provide people with an outlet to escape the demands placed by their lives son them. Be aware of and avoid increasing habits that may not be helpful in the long term, like smoking and drinking. Create a daily routine that prioritises self-care moments eg try reading more or watching movies, try a new relaxation techniques.
1.7 If under medical attention, continue engaging with your healthcare providers and ensure that prescription medicines available to you.
1.8 It is important to look after your spiritual health as well as your physical and mental health. Participate in feloowship and worship with your church community. Find ways to pray, read the Bible, talk to other Christians using technology.
1.9 Use the free online apps to follow services, receive daily prayer and other spiritual support over the internet.
1.10 Mediatate using your favourite verse or passage of scripture to regain your passion and purpose.
1.11 Replace fear with messages of hope. Use only reputable sources such as government agencies for reliable and up-to-date information and advice on the virus. It’s advisable that you limit your news intake if it is bothering you.
1.12 Churches are encouraged to keep in contact with those already receiving pastoral care as a result of their physical and mental health challenges and to encourage them to keep in touch with their healthcare practioners and keep to their medicine schedules at all times.
South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) Online Toolkit For Mental Health and Covid19: Chat online with a counsellor 7 days a week from 9am – 4pm via the Cipla Whatsapp Chat Line 076 882 2775. FREE online #Facebook Expert Chats daily, 1pm – 2pm on the SADAG Facebook Page: The South African Depression and Anxiety Group SADAG Helplines providing free telephonic counselling, information, referrals and resources 7 days a week, 24 hours a day – call 0800 21 22 23, 0800 70 80 90 or 0800 456 789 or the Suicide Helpline 0800 567 567. Online Toolkit on the SADAG website (www.sadag.org) with free resources, online videos, reliable resources, coping skills, online tools and info on social distancing, self-isolation, etc.
Important contacts for information on Covid-19:
Official Toll Free Call Centre: 0800 029 999
Clinicians Hotline: 082 883 9920
Official WhatsApp Help Service: Say Hi to 0600 123 456