Mental Survival Guide

Being in lockdown is not a piece of cake and many of us are experiencing strange and different phenomena during this time of seclusion. Every single person needs a Mental Survival Guide. I want to just share with you that you are not alone, and many are experiencing similar reactions and emotions. These include:
• Exhaustion
• Detachment from others
• Irritability
• Insomnia
• Poor concentration
• Indecisiveness
• Deteriorating work performance (if you are working)
• Reluctance to work at all
• Feelings of wanting to resign

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.” – C. Darwin

These feelings and the extended confinement can lead to future Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome or Disorder, commonly known as PTSD.

The feelings that are linked to this condition can include depression, stress, low mood, feelings of anger and irritability, as well as emotional exhaustion. Having a toolbox to access like a Mental Survival Guide is important. it just reminds us to focus on the simple things in life.
Please remember that if you are experiencing any of these that you are not the only one and that there are many of us that are feeling all or some of the above emotions.

But remember that this is not a lifelong separation from your friends, family or close ones, or even your social network but a temporary event and we will be seeing changes soon, even if they are staggered and slow.

So, please do keep the faith that this is for your health and safety and remember changes are afoot – even if it is just in the form of ‘takeaways’ on Friday.

Importantly, for all of us to get through this lockdown is to:
** keep informed -> but do not fall for the fake news sources. Always make sure that the info you are receiving is from a solid, fact-checked source.
** Reduce your boredom -> stay active, even if it is in the confines of your home; be creative (like my son, draw on walls if need be…).
** Ensure you have adequate supplies at home (do not go out unnecessarily).
** Improve / upkeep your communication by keeping your social network going – stay in touch with your friends, family or including work colleagues – you do not know who might need that chat more than you – use your support group as that – support!!

Keeping yourself in a positive space is not always that easy.

But here are some Mental Survival Guide tips from the coaching world to help you stave off the feelings of depression and other negative feelings:

Appreciate the small things

Listen to the birds singing in the morning, as you enjoy your first cup of coffee/tea; the air is getting cleaner – the canals are getting so clean, you can literally ‘see-through’ them in Italy, nature is getting a well-deserved rest.


Take the time to enjoy that first sip of coffee or tea on the porch / stoep / in bed. You will not have this time to yourself / with your kids again so soon, when things are back to ‘normal’. Learn to the silence and enjoy the slower JHB pace that we are not used to.

Reinforce the relationships you are in isolation with

Show your emotions – hug your children and your partner, your parents, etc. Tell the people around you that you love them, have some heart-to-heart conversations that you have struggled to get around to during ‘normal’ time, as you now have the time to truly connect with your loved ones – do not let the opportunity pass you by.

Be kind to others

If it is not to the people you in lockdown with, then perhaps choose a shelter (orphanage, old age home or animal) to be kind to. We are all struggling, and it is always elicits a good, positive vibe to give to others, if you can, please try it!!

Humour is a powerful tool

In this “oh, so strange time”: Do not take anything to serious, do not become to angry or frustrated about others or ‘stuff’, laugh it off, it will help you get through this period much easier.

The power of positivity

This links to the above concept of humour, see the good in each and every day. If you need a push ever so often, drop me a line and I will keep you motivated and supported!

Make a to-do-list and start it

Even if it goes beyond lockdown. Keep on working on your list until it is finished. But start it and keep going…

Remember to give yourself breaks!

We are not super-human and we need breaks – a coffee-break, a smoke-break (if you have any left), a chocolate break – whatever floats your boat! But remember to take it!

Stick to your normal schedule

Get up in the morning, get showered, ‘go-to-work’ (if you work from home), but keep a set schedule. Eat breakfast, eat lunch, eat dinner! This is important, because it is so easy to be swept up in the lack of routine, to sleep longer hours or to go to bed late after binge watching, but this is where you can be caught in the exhaustion, where the emotions start taking over, where the stress starts taking over – Be careful! Stick to your routine!!

Try something new

Start that hobby you always wanted to, find a course to do online, if you do not have any work to do – keeping busy is important, but also stretch your mind!

Be kind to yourself

This is not the time to be too strict with yourself. Have the chocolate, have the coffee, have the break! You deserve it!

Stay in touch with the important people!

Not only will this help satisfy your social needs but it will help your loved ones.

Get help when you need it!

If you feel overwhelmed or you think you are not coping – reach out. Ask for help! There are many people out there who are professionally equipped to assist. But do not let it get out of hand!

Sonja Broschk
Author: Sonja Broschk

Sonja is a relationship coach, mediator who is busy writing her PhD, specializing in bulllied teenagers; so that she can help them find their feet, earlier rather than later.