“We’re all doing the best we can to adjust to the new normal during these trying times.
At MasterStart, it’s important for us to keep both our students and staff educated and uplifted in the face of any challenge. The professionals at the South African Federation for Mental Health have kindly shared the invaluable advice below to help us do just this.
We urge you to take the time to read and absorb the helpful information, and to start implementing the practical tips TODAY.
Let’s work together to face this crisis with as much proactivity as possible.”Paul Lensen and Alex Smith
As we go through the troubled times of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential to stay proactive, productive and holistically healthy. The combination of nationwide anxiety and a 21-day lockdown can cause havoc with your mental and physical health, which will only make it harder to get back into work and university. And, of course, this is not a holiday – many South Africans are working from home, or doing their own self-study until they can go back to class.
Staying motivated and disciplined at home can be incredibly difficult for a number of reasons: maybe you’re used to a fast-paced environment like an office or classroom, or perhaps home is full of distractions and associations with sleep and relaxation, or maybe you just find it hard to stick to deadlines without having your boss there to check on your progress.
Adapting to your new environment and workspace is going to take a while, but fast-tracking this will help by sticking to a routine, and ritualistic behaviour. We know ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’. You need to also be mindful of the goals you set for yourself and the expectations you have set for your teachers, boss and colleagues, that you are working with virtually.
However you may be feeling now, it’s important to monitor your health and productivity, and do your best to look after yourself properly over the next few weeks. Here are some tips and ideas that might come in handy while in locked down:
The South African Federation for mental health suggests the following:
- Create daily routines and rituals for yourself, and follow them!
Adding structure to your day is essential if you need to work or study, and it will help to keep your mental state balanced and healthy. Netflix and (solitary) chilling is great for a couple of days, but you will soon sink into a slump if you don’t wake up with a purpose.
- • Listen to your favourite music
Enjoying music that you love, and maybe dancing along, will help to boost your mood and get focused for the day (especially if you put together a banging playlist with your favourite energising jams).
- • Read good books
Reading is a great way to spend your time, and the right material can help to keep you engaged, take your mind off your immediate environment and keep your brain active! Ask your friends and family for recommendations, or (even better) ask your employer, co-workers, lecturers, and fellow students what they’re reading to help them stay in the game. There are also tons of online books and audiobooks out there. In fact, Audible recently released a whole bunch of titles for free!
- • Get frequent exercise
Exercise is essential for preserving good mental and physical health, so try to build it into your daily routine. Just a small amount of exercise at home can lift your spirits and improve your wellbeing. Now is the perfect time to set a physical goal for yourself, as it will keep you motivated over the lockdown period.
- • Set time aside for meditation and quiet contemplation
Even just 10 minutes a day has been shown to assist with reducing stress and maintaining mental wellbeing. Try to schedule this before starting your day, or just before you go to sleep.
- • Keep in Contact
We may be self-isolating, but we mustn’t socially isolate! It is essential during this time to reach out to the people around you through frequent phone or video calls. Not only will this keep you grounded, but you will be able to chat about how you are handling everything and hear about other people’s perspectives – engaging in a healthy debate is a great way to challenge the mind! Try to schedule a call with a loved one once per day – you can call up mum and dad, or a friend you haven’t spoken to in ages. This time may leave us feeling alone, but you can use it to be more socially connected than ever!
- • Bond with Your Kids
If you’re a parent, playing with your children gives you the opportunity to connect and make memories with them. Through this, you will learn from and about them, which will help to make you smile and give you something fun to do during the day. Quality time is always a good investment!
- • Engage in ‘deep work’ in a good environment
Make a list of everything you need to do or would like to accomplish during the lockdown, and when you are working on a task, try to create a distraction-free environment. Try to keep this space away from the areas where you sleep and relax – it may not be as comfy, but sitting at your desk is heaps better than ‘working’ under the covers. Having this space will allow you to focus properly on what you’re doing, which will enable you to be as productive as possible. Plus, you’ll get that dose of pride and satisfaction when you tick something off your to-do list.
- • Set professional goals
Think about how you could be a better student or employee, and make a list of goals that you would like to achieve. If you’re always itching to check Instagram in class, challenge yourself to stay away from your phone for as long as you are seated at your workspace. Or if you stumble into the office on an empty stomach and struggle to concentrate, as a result, use this time to try out different recipes and set up a meal plan so that you will always be properly fuelled and ready for the day!
- • Think about where you’ve come from and where you’re going
If you’re feeling like you’ve lost direction due to the lockdown, sit down and write out your long-term goals and all of your achievements. This will help you to regain your strength and faith in yourself to persevere as you reflect on your life and all that you have overcome.
- • Try to limit your engagement with social media
Social media is great for connecting with people under lockdown, but spending excessive amounts of time on Facebook or Instagram can expose you to fake news, rumours, and stories or information that could make you feel anxious or depressed. It’s important to be informed, but try to get your information from reputable news sources. Plus, we all know that social media can be a massive time-waster.
- • Learn something new
Staying out of the classroom or office over the next few weeks may make you anxious as you feel that you have come to a point of stagnation. To keep yourself going, why not sign up for an online course? They are designed to be conducted remotely, will keep you motivated and working, AND you will be advancing your studies and/or career! MasterStart has courses in finance, management, leadership, and marketing so that you can #KeepLearning through the lockdown.
Remember to be present where you are and in what you are doing. Set aside time each day to take your lunch break, get up from your dining room/office chair, open the window, and take a deep breath of fresh air.
Paul Lensen, Chief Development Officer & Alex Smith, Head of Course Development