Together for tomorrow


Durban psychologist suggests 7 ways to destress after the week of violence

by | Jul 17, 2021

After being caught in the midst of the unrest, Yasmeen Engelbrecht compiled this list of ‘dos and donts’ for her family and friends to help them optimally navigate the next few days. The post has since gone viral. She says, “Please understand that you are now a victim of trauma. If your fight or flight response doesn’t down-regulate soon your immune system is going to take a severe knock and in the time of COVID-19… do I need to say more?”


7 Dos and donts for the next few days

Disengage “Rambo Mode”.  We have to stay vigilant but if we stay in this hyper-aroused state, our bodies will eventually crack. So, put away the phone for blocks of time. Hide it from yourself if you have to. If you have a partner split the time spent on the phone checking for latest developments. Each time you read something anxiety-provoking, the body tenses up.

Don’t watch any action or horror movies for the next few days. Don’t retraumatise yourself. Watch comedies or light-hearted entertainment.

Don’t do any strenuous exercise for the next few days. Our hearts have been taxed enough. Do light stretching, super-light work outs, gentle walks etc. Remember, trauma cannot be dealt with cognitively. It sits in the body. Breath work is super important. Also consider chi qong or yin yoga etc. These methods engage the parasympathetic nervous system which is super important right now. Remember the body doesn’t give way during the fight, it gives way as we begin to normalise, which is now.

Take control of your world. We have been feeling helpless, now that it is calmer we are no longer helpless. Signal this shift to your brain. Clean your house like you would if potential buyers were coming to view it. Get back into your routine. Get outside. Walk around your complex. Play your favourite songs and sing along.

If you are a meditator, consider doing light body work or stretching before sitting for your meditation. Your mind is probably way too engaged and hyped up to go directly into meditation.

Give yourself at LEAST one good cry. Save on future health costs, do the breath and body work now. If tears come up (and they will if you breathe deeply and slowly enough) please allow them. Remember what we can handle intellectually far outstrips what we can handle emotionally. You are now a victim of trauma, treat yourself as such. Treat yourself with kid gloves.

Up the immune boosters. Double your intake of Vitamin C (the wonder drug) for the next few days. If you have Echinaforce, go for a prophylactic approach. Up the magnesium intake and take it at night to calm the body and induce sleep.

If you need specific exercises for de-stressing or sleep difficulties please contact Yasmeen via her website. You can also watch her YouTube videos here. Below is a recording of an eNCA interview Yasmeen did on Sunday 18 July. 


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