Sean Van Staden
Columnist
4 minute read
30 May 2020
11:25 am

Wellness is key in these challenging times

Sean Van Staden

It is important to focus on mental and physical health during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Picture: iStock

The word ‘wellness’ refers to ‘being in good health’. But what does ‘being in good health’ actually mean?
As loosely as that term is generally used, it is in fact quite complex to understand.

The reason I bring up wellness is because we as a human race, and more importantly South Africans, have been subjected to some extreme circumstances which have impacted on our wellness and will be among the biggest causes of mental health issues and death in the months and years to come.
It is a bold statement but, in order to understand this, you must just look at the people around you and your circle of friends and see what they are going through.
On a WhatsApp group between my golf friends, someone said he had to lay off 12 staff members. In another group, someone had to face laying off 13 staff members. Some friends have had salaries halved and others are now without jobs.
Imagine being a mother of two kids without a job and waking up each morning, trying to explain to your children that there is no food for breakfast.
Older generation fathers have been brought up to be the providers of their households, and coping with a sudden job loss can be very traumatic.
As real as the rude awakening is getting, my advice is to keep soldiering on. You are in the battle trenches and bullets are flying everywhere, bombs are going off, you are scared as hell and you need to focus on what is dear to you and start fighting for that.
Your battle is different now. You are at home, and while the metaphorical bullets are flying, it is likely that you still get to kiss your loved ones goodnight. So you need to survive because it is not only about you. It’s also about them, and you need to do everything in your power to make sure you can keep going.
This means ensuring your wellness is in check, and you need to work on your physical, physiological, psychological and social wellbeing every day.
“I am well thanks,” should not just be a phrase to get people off your back. It takes a daily routine to keep working on the areas which contribute to your wellbeing.

Here are some tips to help get your wellbeing back on track.

Physical exercise

There is a reason why, when you go to the army, they drill you into the ground with physical exercises. Ok, perhaps not so much in South Africa anymore, but let’s use the US Marine Corps (like you often see in movies) as an example.
Their bodies are primed every day to make sure that when they go to war, so they can physically deal with the demands required from the tasks at hand, and they are prepared for the worst case scenario.
You have been on the couch way too long, soldier. It’s time to start with daily exercise routines, which is non-negotiable.

As you feel physically stronger you will have more energy to fight, in order to get you out of your current situation. Exercise also helps with strengthening a positive mindset.

Gather support

If you chose to be the breadwinner of the household, guess what, it was not your decision alone. It was a family decision, so if the wheels have come off and you are battling to make ends meet, why should this be your problem alone? Sit down and have the uncomfortable talks about what has happened and why it has happened.
You can go through your stages of grief, but ultimately you need to move into a space where you have a team (your family) working together for a common goal, providing emotional support and helping each other get back on your feet.
Teamwork is dreamwork and there is a reason one person doesn’t go to war by themselves. They just can’t cope alone. It’s important to rally troops and solve problems together.
Reach out
The next time you kiss your loved ones goodnight, ask yourself this question: “Are they not worth fighting for and will you not do anything in your power to protect them?”
Dying on the battlefield is not an option, so you have to do what you have to do to make it right. Aside from turning to friends and family, make sure you reach out for free professional help from experts who can help shape your roadmap and give you perspective.
For advice and assistance, contact Suicide Crisis Hotline on 0800 12 13 14 or Lifeline South Africa on 0861 322 322.

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