Sunday, November 28

The preview panel with Nuwanthie Samara and Chris Gallivan


It is natural at this time for New Zealanders to feel uncertainty and anxiety when Covid-19 is detected in the community.

Psychologist Sarb Johal shares tips on how to take care of your mental health and how to deal with the situation.

Elderly man in confinement, isolation, isolation, Covid-19, mask, mental health.

Photo: 123RF

Some were incredulous upon hearing the news of a community case after a reasonably long period of no fright. Dr Johal says there was probably a “collective outburst of expletives in New Zealand” when the news broke.

He told the Panel that it is natural to feel anxious considering what we see around the world in countries facing Delta variant cases.

But moving quickly through the reactive phase to focus on reality is best, he says, and planning how to make the situation more livable.

“I think one of the things we need to remember is that we will regret a lot less if we act like this is the worst case now and consistently take protective measures to protect ourselves.”

The World Health Organization also has a list of suggestions for take care of your mental health at home. The Mental Health Foundation also has various resources to help people you may be struggling.

Lucy D’Aeth, Canterbury DHB Public Health Specialist, had these tips the last time we went to Level 4:

  • Keep a routine
  • Keep exercising (you may have a boogie in the kitchen – music will be important)
  • Try to read
  • Do something that brings you joy
  • Go for a walk, run or bike ride (just keep a distance of 2 meters from people and stay local)
  • Write and process your feelings
  • Stay connected (make a phone call, write a letter, video chat)

Some may also turn to their religion and focus on it for hope. And let’s not forget to be nice to each other, as the Mental Health Foundation says, because it’s easy to lash out when we’re having a hard time.

Staying in touch and communicating is important too, especially for older people.

Act against complacency

Dr. Johal also warned people against panic shopping.

“What we have to do is remember when we went through this before we could get the essentials when we needed them.

“Just take your time and pause on that. Think about what you need to do to protect yourself right now, but also for the next few days. “

We previously thought the odds were a bit more in our favor before, he says, but we can no longer assume that and must act consistently.

“All things like packing a mask if we are going to leave the house, planning how you will stay distant, not just solving it in the moment, but planning how you are going to do that.

“Remember what worked for you the last time you were asked to work at home, both for yourself and for your family members.”

While these are things we already know, he says the key is to act on it: “We almost have to plan to remember.”

Speaking earlier this year when there was a community case, Dr. Johal told the Panel that people became complacent about invisible threats and the message at the beginning of the pandemic was powerful: “Act like you have the virus.”

“To establish a habit, identity is really important, so when you act like you have the virus, then all the behaviors that accompany that identity, like physical distancing, washing hands, wearing a mask, all of this follows. .

“It’s not just about having information, it’s about the culture and seeing a lot of people doing that behavior and then it becomes much more acceptable and common.

“Often times, people say that we don’t have to scan because we don’t have Covid here, and that’s not true. We just don’t know if it’s here until it’s here or not, and it might not show up until 14 days after it’s been in the community. “


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