Over the past two weeks, our amygdala’s (the core fear system of our brains) have been working overtime! Especially after Sunday’s National Address. According to Zhang, Wu Zhao and Zhang (2020), the Coronavirus may “lead to widespread fear and panic, especially stigmatisation and social exclusion of confirmed patients, survivors and relations, which may escalate into further negative psychological reactions, including adjustment disorder and depression” (p. 2). In order to help alleviate some of the anxiety that you and your daughters may be experiencing, below are some tips that may help look after your mental health during this time:
- Try to avoid speculation and make sure you are keeping up-to-date with trusted sources of information.Sources that are false as well as rumours can increase your anxiety, so make sure you use trusted sources regarding the virus, which may help you feel more in control. Updates on the virus in South Africa can be found on:
- Join the Coronavirus WhatsApp support for South Africans by saying “Hi” to 0600 123 456.
- Practice social media self-discipline. It may be difficult to try and avoid social media, however, the virus is being ‘hyped’ up on social media which results in you feeling more anxious and worried. Often, the information and commentary from your friends and acquaintances on Facebook is either inaccurate or exaggerated. Rather keep up to date on the virus on the above mentioned website.
- Staying connected to friends and family. When we are experiencing stress and anxiety, support and connections are extremely important.
- During the school holidays, your daughters must try stick to a daily routine as well as keeping active, eating a balanced diet, getting minimal 8 hours of sleep and staying in touch with friends for support.
- Talk to your children. Family is everything and it is crucial that you keep your children informed of the virus, by asking them what they have heard about the outbreak and support them, without causing them alarm. As parents, you need to try minimise the negative impact it has on your children and explain the facts openly with them. It is important to discuss news with them, but at the same time try avoid too much exposure of the coverage of the virus. Health experts from CNN reported that parents must acknowledge their children’s fear and let them know that their feelings are valid.
- Name your fears. It may help to sit together with your family and discuss what specific threats worry each family member. Discuss what your fear is, and how realistic it is. Assess your personal risk and the chances that you may be exposed to the virus and may contract it or not. We are all human so it is normal for us to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed when we read the news, specifically if you have been exposed to previous trauma, previous mental health challenges or previous long term physical health conditions. You need to acknowledge these emotions and feelings, and remind each family member to look after their physical and mental health.
Going forward, if your daughters are experiencing anxiety or stress during the holidays, they are more than welcome to contact me during the holidays on the following:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- WhatsApp or phonecalls: 0614567622 (only to be used for girls who are experiencing any mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression and so on. Girls are not to use this for any other communication purposes).
- If your daughter would like to set up a Skype session, my Skype name is: live:.cid.753ae0dca5e59a39
- Microsoft Teams
Lastly, as reported by COVID- 19 SA Online Resources, “There is no need to panic – 82% of COVID – 19 cases are mild: patients only experience a slight fever, fatigue and a cough. Only about 6% of patients need intensive care. The vast majority of people can stay at home and get better without hospital treatment.”
On a more positive note, I hope your daughters have had a lovely Term 1. Well done parents for surviving the term; the early morning drop offs, watching sports on weekends and sometimes dealing with your teenage daughter while she experiences hormonal changes! Happy holidays, be safe and we will see you in Term 2.
Bolduan, K. (2020). What I’m telling my kids about the COVID-19. Retrieved March, 16, 2020, fromhttps://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/16/opinions/telling-my-kids-about-coronavirus-bolduan/index.html.
COVID-19. (2020). COVID-19 Corona Virus: SA Resource Portal. Retrieved March, 16, 2020, from https://sacoronavirus.co.za/.
Willingham, A. (2020). How to keep coronavirus fears from affecting your mental health. Retrieved March, 16, 2020, from https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/14/health/coronavirus-fears-mental-health-wellness-trnd/index.html.
Zhang, J., Weili, W., Zhao, X., & Zhang, W. (2020). Recommended psychological crisis intervention response to the 2019 novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak in China: a model of West China Hospital. Precision Clinical Medicine, 00 (00), 1-6.