Months of home-schooling, extra housework, worrying about the health of loved ones, work pressures, and diminished social interaction have taken their toll. Women are facing an immense struggle with their mental health – here are some tips on tackling this issue…


Far from a time of empowerment and celebration, Women’s Month has seen depression and anxiety skyrocket among women as the boundaries of an already tenuous work-life balance have become increasingly blurred under lockdown.

According to a recent Ipsos poll, 40% of South African women say they are feeling anxious as a result of Covid-19 compared to 32% of men.

According to Johannesburg-based business, life coach and neuro-linguistic programming practitioner Shanaaz Sukhraj, the underlying tenet of Women’s Month, ‘you strike a woman, you strike a rock,’ is, in reality, nowhere near being internalised as women struggle to contain the guilt of floundering under added pressures.

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These include months of home-schooling, extra housework, worrying about their parents’ health, and diminished social interaction with close friends while trying to run a business or work a full day.

Aleksandr Davydov –

Marital pressures increase during lockdown

Marital relationships are also taking strain, says Sukhraj, who is experiencing her ‘busiest consulting time’ since starting her coaching journey over 10 years ago.

“Many women are struggling to assign tasks to their partners who, in turn, are unaware of building resentment. Even in 2020, a high percentage of women are still subconsciously modelling their relationships on what they saw in their parents’ marriage, so they often feel ashamed to ask for help or stand their ground as the scales tip unevenly on the home chores front.”

READ MORE: Lockdown divorces – A new phenomenon?

Domestic violence also increased during lockdown

In his address to the nation on 17 June 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa stated that gender-based violence is South Africa’s second pandemic.

He referred to, in particular, the incidents that had taken place whilst the country was in hard lockdown.  Gender-based violence, in particular domestic violence, is an overwhelming problem that exists in South Africa.

READ MORE: SA Gender Based Violence Centre calls triple during national lockdown

It is because of this issue that the National Shelter Movement of South Africa (NSMSA), with input from partner organisations, developed the free GBV Safety Plan that not only provides useful emergency and GBV support contacts, but also offers some real-world suggestions for being safer in domestic violence situations.

“The increase in domestic violence is not exclusive to lockdown,” reveal the developers of one of South Africa’s most-used safety apps. According to the Namola app, an average 10% of all crime reported to the app every month relates to domestic violence.

(See contact details at the end of the article for more help in dealing with domestic violence)

Identity loss among women during lockdown

Many women who grapple with identity issues at the best of times find that this phenomenon has heightened under all levels of lockdown.

“Many of my clients are questioning their career priorities with young kids in the house all day, having to take responsibility for home-schooling and round-the-clock parenting. They say that they’re afraid they’re losing their sense of self.”

Sukhraj believes that there are solutions: “Women have to learn how to stand their ground and tap into their power. Establishing boundaries will help women find some balance. We have to learn to stop over-giving while assigning tasks to our partners if they are not doing their share.”

Learn to ask for what you want:

Sukhraj says one client who hadn’t communicated her dissatisfaction eventually wrote down a list of what she wanted her husband to take care of. The surprise? He didn’t argue or complain. He did as she asked. “Some people just need to be told what to help with, or what to do at home.”

In a classic case of ‘ask and ye shall receive’, Sukhraj says the letter or list idea worked seamlessly in another scenario.

She recently encouraged one client who couldn’t confront her partner face-to-face to communicate about what she needed to change in the bedroom, using this way. “Writing him a letter made all the difference. Far from wounding his ego, he was delighted. When things change for the better sexually, much in the relationship changes for the better.”


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? : ? Overthinking & feeling stuck ? Struggling to make & stick to decisions? Constantly seeking external validation ? Doubting your abilities ? Trying to please everyone & their mom? Struggling to make a decent income ? Struggling to get clients to sign up ? Always hustling and grinding – burnout? ? Demotivated and fed up – ready to throw in the towel ? ? ? ✅ ’ & … ? ? ✨YOU are ENOUGH right now to up-level yourself & your business ? ✨ ALL the answers you’re looking for is within you ? ✨ YOU have the power to change your life right now ? ✨ YOU have unique gifts and talents ? ✨ YOU were born with a purpose ? ✨ You can have all the abundance you seek ? ✨ Queen, you have the ability to create life in your womb – you absolutely have the power to CREATE the LIFE you DREAM of! ? ? I am here to be your guide: ? ? I provide you with the guidance you need to up-level yourself & business ? I help you find your true passion & purpose in life – then show you how to monetize it ? I help you discover the power you have within you to manifest the life you dream off. ? I help you discover your truth, build your confidence and self worth. ? I help you fall in love with your life & business all over again ? I teach you the secrets of attracting dream soul aligned clients ? I teach you how to manifest anything with ease? I teach you the energetics of money and wealth ? I break all your self limiting beliefs and past programming using NLP Techniques, hypnosis and other modalities so you can be the best version of yourself. ? ? The core of my program is to disconnect you from everything that’s not serving you and ALIGN you with what you WANT to create so you get to create it NOW! ? ? ✨ You need to stop resisting.? ✨ You need to get out of you own way and silence your inner critic ? ? SWIPE TO SEE MY CLIENTS RESULTS ? ? If you’re tired of playing small & you’re ready to discover your own power & start manifesting your dreams ? ? with the word GODDESS.

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Depression and anxiety during lockdown

Besides depression, anxiety under Covid-19 has spiralled for many women, says Sukhraj.

“Watching or listening to too much news only helps perpetuate the feeling that the world is out of control. It’s not hard to become a sponge for unnecessary negativity.”

A client who thought her childhood anxiety was under control found it was suddenly an issue again. She feared for her parents and her children’s health and was struggling to cope.

READ MORE: Don’t let anxiety & depression overwhelm you: Why moms need to make mental health a priority during lockdown

“Neuro-linguistic programming which includes first finding out the root of that way of thinking as well as undergoing hypnosis or listening to hypnosis audios, can help change the narrative,” advises Sukhraj. “The client needed to focus on the positives in her life. Sometimes even a gratitude journal can make a difference,” says Sukhraj.

“It’s about reframing the events or helping to rationalise what’s going on with one’s emotions. Sometimes, especially in these last few months, some people need to directly confront a fear of death and move forward that way.”


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A long time ago, In a certain kingdom, in a certain land, there lived a girl. This girl had dreams: She wanted to live in a big house, She wanted the fancy cars, the exotic vacations and a life of luxury. She wanted all the material things in life. This girl was raised by a single mother and 1 of 4 kids. Her mother always told her, if you go to school and get good grades, you will get a good job in a nice company and you will be able to get all those things you dream about. What her mother didn’t tell her was that, these material things won’t make you happy. This girl went to school, studied hard, did incredibly well and eventually she managed to get a good job at a big international company. Soon enough this girl had the big house, travelled the world, got the fancy car, designer clothes and bags and had the material things she always wanted. Her family was proud. But this girl wasn’t happy. All those things she worked hard at accomplishing didn’t mean anything. She started searching for the meaning of life, she knew there had to be more to life. Her job was starting to become a curse and she struggled with her mental health. Nobody knew how deeply unhappy this girl was because all they could see was the lifestyle she lived. She seemed to have it all. Years later, this girl found her true purpose. She found her passion and joy that ignited a fire in her. She was scared but she acted despite the fear. She finally left her corporate job of 10 years, She went through her own challenges and setbacks as she started to embrace her god given gifts and pursue her passion. This girl set out to help people become better versions of themselves, she helped people heal, she started to help people find their purpose in life, she helped people not just create abundance in wealth and material things but a life that has happiness, joy and inner peace. You see this girl learned that abundance isn’t only about wealth and the fancy lifestyle. Abundance is also peace of mind, good health, love, meaningful friendships. This girl is me.

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Reduce limiting beliefs

While Sukhraj says anyone suffering deep-seated trauma should see a therapist or psychiatrist, those women who want to focus on setting and achieving goals rather than focussing on past events may benefit from coaching work.

“It can involve hypnosis which gets to the heart of limiting beliefs. We usually have to get to a set of core beliefs planted before the age of eight-years-old and reframe these, so we don’t keep repeating past mistakes,” says Sukhraj.

“These, she says, include not being able to ask for help when we’re overwhelmed. It’s about reimagining our relationships so we find inner peace and an abundance not related to just material wealth.”

While sceptics may scoff at concepts like the laws of attraction, Sukhraj says that it’s sometimes just a question of getting in touch with, and challenging our subconscious mind. “It’s not woo-hoo stuff. If you behave differently, your outcomes will be different.”

  • Sukhraj will be launching the Goddess Within Membership Society, an online ‘community of women who can support each other’ in September.
  • Namola provides 24-hour emergency response for women using the free TEARS USSD service (*134*7355#). The same USSD number can be used by women to find their nearest counselling facility.
  • Download the free GBV Safety Plan here


SAPS Emergency Services 10111
Toll-free Crime Stop number 086 00 10111
GBV Command Centre Contact the 24-hour Gender Based Violence Command Centre toll-free number 0800 428 428 to report abuse
STOP Gender Violence Helpline Tel: 0800 150 150/ *120*7867#
South African Police Service Report all cases of rape, sexual assault or any form of violence to a local police station or call the toll-free Crime Stop number: 086 00 10111
Legal Aid South Africa Call the toll-free Legal Aid Advice Line 0800110 110 for free legal aid if you cannot afford one
Commission for Gender Equality Report Gender Discrimination and Abuse: 0800 007 709
South African Human Rights Commission Call 011 877 3600 to lodge a complaint about human rights violations.
Domestic violence Helpline Stop Women Abuse: 0800 150 150
AIDS Helpline 0800 012 322
The Warrior Project FREE legal helpline for victims of domestic abuse: 0860 333 353
People Opposed to Woman Abuse(Powa), Tel: 011 642 4345
Child Welfare South Africa, Tel: 074 080 8315
Childline South Africa, Tel: 0800 055 555
Families South Africa (Famsa), Tel: 011 975 7106/7
Tears Foundation, Free SMS helpline: *134*7355#, Tel: 010 590 5920
The Trauma Centre, Tel: 021 465 7373
Thuthuzela Care Centres