Sunél’s Blog | What’s on your mind?

Sunél Veldtman, | 17 July 2020

Just when we thought it could not get worse, it did. Now we have lockdown and load shedding, all without alcohol. Yes, the winter cold fronts have been welcome and there is the silver lining of nearly full dams (in the Cape), but the freezing cold in the dark has come at a dark time for South Africa.

Then there are the small losses like the matrics’ final year at school or grandparents missing the birth of a grandchild. Just this morning, my eldest evacuated her res room – she will not be going back to res, ever. These small losses do not compare at all to the big losses of lives or jobs. Yet they weigh on us.

The situation feels overwhelmingly depressing.

Our biggest fight – other than for our lives – through this pandemic may not be for our livelihood. It may be for our mental wellbeing. Without mental wellbeing, there will be no livelihood.

A crisis like this can damage our mental wellbeing permanently, much like trauma leaves its mark.

In talking to many industry colleagues this week, I realised that protecting our own and our clients’ mental wellbeing may be one of the most important aspects of protecting wealth through this pandemic. Protecting our mental wellbeing isn’t difficult. Strangely, we neglect it exactly when we need it most.

In an article in The Neuroleadership Journal, published in 2012, David Rock and Daniel J. Siegel explain how we can protect our mental health with seven simple activities, which they call The Healthy Mind Platter.

We know these things. We need to get enough good sleep. We need to exercise. We need to have time when we focus, away from distractions, including screens. We need to have fun and connect with our friends. We need to sometimes be idle and we need time to reflect and process on our own about what is going on with ourselves.

It means that we need time, separate to when we are ruminating on potentially depressing and stressing thoughts. All these activities will help to improve concentration, learning, memory, emotion regulation and perspective-taking. Aren’t these all essential at this time?

Instead of reading another disconcerting article, watching news endlessly or mindlessly scrolling through social media, rather go for a stroll, read an absorbing book or go to bed. According to the mental health experts, you and your money will be better off.

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