This time last week I was hopeful that the Covi19 pandemic would not come into Botswana and that if I played my part everything would be ok. Watching news updates on the effects that this virus has had across the world on a daily basis played a number on my anxiety but at least I could hold onto the fact that we don’t have any infections yet. The shock and disappointment that came over Batswana when the Minister announced three positive cases was intense and I could feel myself be engulfed by fear. Not that my nation is any more special than other countries but the reality that my family, friends and colleagues could be affected by this unforgiving virus sent chills down my spine. As is the norm I took to social media to get a feel of my people’s reaction to this devastating news and unfortunately this caused more harm than good; my anxiety went off the roof and I only slept at 3am. While I was tossing and turning it dawned on me that this is not the time to be panicking but rather to continue playing my role to minimize the spread of the virus. I know there are so many other people who are on the same boat as me and I realized that we need to make our mental health a priority during this difficult time. The World Health Organization (WHO) shared a few tips on how we can keep our mental health in tact during this time:
1. Stay connected and maintain your social networks. Try as much as possible to keep your personal daily routines or create new routines if circumstances change. If health authorities have recommended limiting your physical social contact to contain the outbreak, you can stay connected via telephone, e-mail, social media or video conference.
2. During times of stress, pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly, keep regular sleep routines and eat healthy food. Keep things in perspective. Public health agencies and experts in all countries are working on the outbreak to ensure the availability of the best care to those affected
3. A near-constant stream of news reports about an outbreak can cause anyone to feel anxious or distressed. Seek information updates and practical guidance at specific times during the day from health professionals and WHO website and avoid listening to or following rumors that make you feel uncomfortable.
Truth is the anxiety and panic most of us are experiencing is caused by the false news we are taking in and allowing people’s interpretations and perceptions about the virus to contaminate ours. Let’s try to stay as calm as possible and play our part as requested by our health practitioners. The virus is here and now more than ever is when we need to make the right decisions and play our part in stopping the spread of this virus. Panic causes havoc and can mislead us into making hasty decisions so the importance of our mental health at this time is critical. Let’s keep our mental health intact and beat Covid-19!