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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCT chapter.

Mental illnesses present their own set of challenges on a regular day, but the loss of control of your daily life and the chaos of the unknown can bring you down even further. These times can be stressful for anyone: students whose graduation ceremonies were cancelled, people whose career plans are now on hold, those that cannot afford to stockpile groceries and even those essential workers who are now overworked in times of COVID-19. With the stress of the present and the anxiety of the future, it’s best to remember that whatever feelings you’re stuck in, or whatever situation you currently find yourself in, you are not alone. We all share a pain or disappointment during these uncertain times and we’re all trying to adjust and cope with the curveballs that life keeps throwing at us. 

 

 

 

Journalling

A good way to monitor your feelings and understand your thoughts is by writing them down in a journal. You can use pictures, words, song lyrics or even try your hand at poetry. Writing things down is a good way to soothe and better understand your feelings. Who knows, you might end up sparking a hidden passion and writing a masterpiece!

Reading

If you have access to a book, open it and get lost in the pages of a literary world. Reading has a good way of taking our focus away from the overwhelming world around us by emerging us in a good story line and allowing us that healthy distraction. 

You’ve got time!

Remember that thing that you always wanted to do but never had the time? Well, great news is that now you can finally try it, whether it be a new hobby or fixing something around the house. Achieving this will make you feel a lot more accomplished and productive. 

Stay connected

If you are surrounded by friends and family, take some time to really connect with them. They are also experiencing their own share of difficulties and carrying the burden together makes a lighter load. Be helpful and supportive and you might find that you will come out of this a stronger family unit.  If your family isn’t around, reach out to a neighbour (if your living situation permits) and let them know that you’re there for them.

Switch off from the news

Limit your time spent listening to the news. The news is especially important with regards to keeping ourselves informed about COVID-19, however spending all day obsessing over each newly reported case only contributes to panic and anxiety. Listen to the news in the morning and again at night, but limit yourself to only two hours.

One day at a time

Take each day as it comes. It is so easy to get caught up in planning and prepping, but tomorrow is out of our control and we can only plan for today.  Set an achievable goal for the day and focus on that instead. As the day ends, reflect on that achievement. Do this as each day comes and by celebrating these small victories, you’ll feel more in control. 

It is now, more than ever, that we need to take a step back and find ways to care for ourselves and those around us. We need to focus not only on protecting ourselves physically, but also guarding our mental health. Having a type of mental illness can make the rapidly changing situation around us even more terrifying. We’re constantly bombarded with news of panic-buyers and increased COVID-19 cases globally. To prevent the panic of the situation, it is now that we need to be extra gentle with our mental health. 

As a matter of perspective, our time spent in lockdown doesn’t have to be a complete waste: we have been given the gift of time, which is something that life rarely gives. You can try and use this time to work on yourself by harnessing your skills and give yourself an extra bit of self-care, no matter your current situation. 

Remember to be there for one another, especially those struggling with isolation. Give a call to a friend in need and let them know that they’re loved and that they’re not alone. We can all lift each other up and share the weight of our feelings. 

A 23 year old travel blogger and aspiring writer. I spend my days buried in a journal, scrolling through curated Instagram feeds or experimenting with my camera. I'm a media student at the University of Cape Town aiming towards a career in journalism. My passions include learning languages and expanding my knowledge of social issues. My biggest dream: to travel the world and help others along the way.