5 pillars of self care for the COVID-19 pandemic

Lockdown in South Africa has put almost everyone's lives on hold. Instead of raising your fist in the air exclaiming your frustration, rather use this as an opportunity to brush up on some old skills, or learn something new, like Shape of Emotion.


Lockdown is stressful. For everybody. Our lives have been radically disrupted. Movement has been inhibited. We may be overwhelmed by fear and worry about our health, the health of our loved ones and our ability to earn an income. We may be concerned about what happens when lockdown ends, and when will it end?

So much uncertainty and lack of control over our future will result in a wide range of emotions, some of which, if not attended to early can become debilitating. But what to do? To date there has been an emphasis on keeping physically healthy, which has been necessary. But there is more that can be done. Our approach is five fold. It encompasses all the aspects we have identified that cover our lives as social human beings:

  1. Thinking
  2. Feeling
  3. Moving
  4. Nourishing
  5. Relating

We will be sharing some of our thoughts and suggestions for Thinking and Feeling in this issue of The Week That Was. Look out for our coverage of the other three later in the week.


We often say that far too much emphasis has been placed on our intellect. If thinking was going to solve the problems of the world it would have done so already for all the thinking we do. Thinking, however, does have a very important place in who we are. What we mean by Thinking in this context incorporates learning, reflection, and growing your own self awareness.

It means being strategic and circumspect about what information you let in. Fake news is a real thing. It is dangerous, wastes time, effort and energy and can lead to panic and deepened anxiety. Remember the panic buying that occurred just before lockdown? People fought over goods that would be there the next day and the day after and the following week. Stirred by a social media frenzy and unsubstantiated doom and gloom news.

The best thing you can do is reduce your consumption of social media substantially, choose wisely what news media you will engage in and maybe read a book instead.

This time in our history is unprecedented so how about keeping a record of it? Not just the events of your day but also how you are feeling, the ebbs and flows of your emotional and psychological state. What you notice about the people who live with you and the enclosed environment you now live in.

Finally you can use this time to learn something new. If you have the time, that is. For many of us lockdown gives very little extra time at all. If you are lucky to have time on your hands there are a multitude of free to use offerings that you can choose from to learn something. Admittedly a majority of these take it for granted that you have some access to the online world for tutorials, recipes and guides. If data is a premium, and you do not have access to WiFi, check with your mobile provider for specials.

Some things to do are:

Learn to cook or bake

Maybe you could do one but not the other. Perhaps you could do neither. This is a good time to share the load and get up to speed with what happens in the kitchen.

Learn a new skill or freelance your skills

This could be a language, craft or even brushing up on something that you have always wanted to learn but haven't had the time. There are plenty of websites where you can sign up and offer your services to others, such as teaching, writing or even conversing in your mother-language to assist someone else to learn it.

Clean, organise or DIY

At some point you will need to clean. And do the washing. If you don't know how, this is a great time to learn. There's a good chance someone in your environment will know how to, so ask them. They will probably also be happy that you offered.

Tidying up or organising that stuff that lurks in the cupboard or corner of the room will bring relief and a sense of accomplishment.

And then there's a DIY project. Hanging pictures, painting or doing a garden project all count. Our community has seen an uptake in the sharing of tools and implements (all properly sanitised before and after being traded) to get some of these things done.

5 Pillars Of Self Care For The COVID-19 Pandemic

During the COVID-19 lockdown, 5th Place is sharing it's 5 Pillars of self care. Here's a list of the pillars:

1. 5 Pillars of Self Care - Thinking and Feeling


How are the challenges of lockdown making you feel? Anne Marie Collins, President of the Australian Association of Psychologists (AAPi) has identified the five stages of emotion during life in isolation.


A profound sense of loss will trigger sensations of denial. COVID-19 has caused sudden loss of structure and social life, so the first emotion we experience is often disbelief that this is actually happening.


Just as we feel anger when grieving the death of a loved one, it is normal to feel angry about the loss of normality and sudden upheaval foisted on us by the coronavirus crisis. It's important to relinquish anger to move on to the acceptance phase of the situation.


It's normal to feel sadness and other negative emotions during this time, and we must accept that despair can grip us at any stage in our lockdown journey. Tears should never be seen as a sign of weakness, rather as a natural reaction to shock and change. Notice your emotions, describe them to yourself or those around you, analyse what triggered them and let them go without judgment.


When anger dissipates, we accept the reality of our situation and create new routines to give us a sense of energy and purpose.

Hope and optimism

The final and most beneficial stage where we develop new skills and develop solutions to the challenges of life under lockdown.

Whatever it is that you are feeling the important thing is to let it come and let it go. Some ways to help in the letting go are:



Shape of Emotion

Do Shape of Emotion or attend an Emotional Fitness Class to dial down any difficult feelings you are experiencing. It's free, online and easy to do. We run them three times a week, on Sundays (11:00), Tuesdays (14:30) and Thursdays (17:30). Visit www.5th.place/efc to register your space.


Stop. Breathe deeply for ten breaths.

Mindful count

Stop. Name five things that you can see in your vicinity, four things you can hear, three things you can touch and two things you can smell. This brings you back to the present.


Meditate. Use any one of the many apps available (we like Insight Timer and Oak) or use YouTube if you need guidance.


Move. Get active. This helps release emotions before you want to start throwing things. There's more on this in the next issue where we cover the pillars of Moving, Feeling and Relating.


Our last thought is more an offering. Our experience in developing Shape of Emotion and doing the work with it, as we like to say, is that people often leave their emotions to last or even totally out of the equation when thinking about looking after themselves.


To get through the COVID-19 pandemic each of us needs to be resilient and this means physically and emotionally. We are just past half way through our lockdown in South Africa. There are two and a half more weeks of this. If you feel that things are getting you down or on top of you, reach out to us for support. If we can't assist, we have enough connections to point you to someone or something (non alcoholic or mind altering!) that can. Reply to this email or WhatsApp us on +27-82-901-2404.

Remember, it's not selfish to look after yourself!

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