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Monday, 28 September 2020

Managing COVID fear and anxiety

FIGHTING COVID FEAR: The Department of Student Counselling has launched various online activities, including support groups, workshop and webinars and psychoeducational resources aimed at addressing various topics related to COVID fear and stigma, mental healthcare and support topics. FIGHTING COVID FEAR: The Department of Student Counselling has launched various online activities, including support groups, workshop and webinars and psychoeducational resources aimed at addressing various topics related to COVID fear and stigma, mental healthcare and support topics.

Dealing with COVID fear and anxiety requires one to assume daily responsibility for these emotions, so that they can be managed properly.


Leanie Brits, Zain Julies, Janine Van Sitters-Mintoor and Samantha Hanslo, counselling psychologists in the Student Counselling Department, say COVID and lockdown have certainly overwhelmed people’s basic ability to cope and deal with the daily stressors associated with the current uncertain situation.

 

Brits says fear is often made worse by having limited knowledge about COVID and may often lead to panic-buying, excessive avoidance of situations or even stigma and discrimination against others. “These behaviours often are an unhealthy attempt to make sense of the pandemic and to try and control the situation,” she adds.

 

Brits point out that while fear may be overwhelming it can be managed responsibly. Hanslo, Van-Sitters-Mintoor and Julies share the following tips for staff and students:  

 

  • Focus on what you can control in your immediate environment. Try to focus on the here and now. What tomorrow or the day after may bring is not in our control. You can plan your day and engage in routine activities- keep your focus on these.
  • Adjusting your routine can also create new energy and motivation if you feel overwhelmed by boredom
  • Engage in practical tasks and activities that will assume your focus including listening to music, reading or cooking a new recipe.
  • Maintain healthy coping mechanisms and ensure that your eating, sleeping and exercising habits are maintained.
  • Be aware of news and social media triggers that increase your anxiety. Rather limit media exposure and screen time.
  • It is essential that you connect with people and try to maintain social/virtual contact- this will boost your sense of belonging and enhance your sense of support

 

The psychological impact of COVID on the CPUT community is evident. Ruben, an HIV Peer Educator in the Faculty of Applied Science says that missing one’s campus friends to whom one usually confided can make life unbearable.

 

“Being at home, seeing the reality of the household can be scary for most. Seeing how mom or dad or the elderly sibling having less food than normal to accommodate you, yet we are sometimes ungrateful can also affect one mentally,” adds Ruben.

The Department of Student Counselling has launched various online activities, including support groups, workshop and webinars and psychoeducational resources aimed at addressing various topics related to COVID fear and stigma, mental healthcare and support topics.

This includes two weekly student online support groups, Lockdown Worriers and Coping with Covid-19, aimed at supporting students with adjustment to lockdown and supporting those who have been directly impacted by COVID.

* If your worry or anxiety are persistent and constant, and you are finding it hard to stop worrying about the coronavirus, it is best to seek support.

 

COVID-19 toll free line: 0800 029 999

Higher Health 24-hour counselling support line: 0800 36 36 36

Request CPUT counselling support at Student-counselling@cput.ac.za

For CPUT students, request counselling support at Student-counselling@cput.ac.za

For staff, contact CPUT Lifestyle and Wellness Specialist at mzeles@cput.ac.za.

 

Written by Kwanele Butana

Email: butanak@cput.ac.za

Provides coverage for the Business and Management Sciences and Education Faculties, Student Affairs Department and Cape Town and Mowbray Campuses.