College psychologist, Mrs Teresa Yell has a message to share with us for #WELLNESSWEDNESDAY around the dilemma of complacency and some tips on not falling victim to it.

It was really difficult for me to think of something to share with you all this time round. I felt that perhaps everything that needed to be said regarding COVID-19 and the lockdown had been said in my previous musings. It then struck me, with some help from Stephanie Bouwer, that yet another phase of the COVIID-19 pandemic is emerging – complacency. It all seems more of the same. Perhaps we are all a little too “comfortably numb” (Pink Floyd, The Wall 1979).

Complacency suggests that we are satisfied with our efforts and that we are comfortable with our achievements. “Complacency encourages the absolute minimum…you fear change.  And in a society where change is rampant, adapting to it is a crucial element of survival” ( Granted this was written in relation to self-improvement, but it is also relevant to safeguarding our wellbeing under the current circumstances. 

We seem to become complacent when we feel or believe we have reached our goals. It is, therefore, a good idea to remember what the goal is i.e. to successfully navigate the pandemic. This has, despite appearances, not as yet been attained.

The Head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Europe Office, Dr. Hans Kluge suggests: “We still have a long way to go in the marathon, as the progress we have made so far in fighting the virus is extremely fragile. To think we are coming close to an endpoint would be a dangerous thing to do. The virus leaves no room for error or complacency.” (

So what is the answer? Well, we need to be vigilant or as Pope Frances in a recent sermon put it : “You can’t declare your victory too early…Keep on being careful!” (Tribune online, While we most certainly do not need to panic, some fear “isn’t out of place, it encourages people to adopt behaviours that will limit the outbreak” (Fickling, 2020).

Maintaining a level of vigilance means:

  1. Remembering why we are wearing masks, sanitising and maintaining social distancing. It is also important- gently but firmly encourage others to maintain health protocols.
  2. Being present – again Mindfulness- try not to think of the past or the future too much. Focus on what you are busy with. This will be really helpful to our matric pupils who are inclined to worry about next year.
  3. Being situationally aware: read enough to keep yourself informed about the pandemic. This will keep you on track re following protocols and being vigilant.
  4. Connecting with others – in a safe way. This is more about the realisation that we are all in this together, this is definitely a shared experience. Go online and talk to friends and family about your experiences and concerns – help each other to remain vigilant.
  5. Acting with love and compassion. By now we may all know of someone who has contracted COVID-19. This may cause mixed emotions as you worry about their health and your own. Anger, fear, frustration, and sadness are just a few of the emotions you may experience even after recovery. Remember there can be no stigma attached to this virus – stigma is usually as a result of a lack of understanding or because people don’t know how COVID-19 is spread. It is may also be the result of fears related to the virus as well as the need to blame in an attempt to make sense of the virus. Avoid rumours and myths. “Stigma can also make people more likely to hide symptoms or illness, keep them from seeking health care immediately, and prevent individuals from adopting healthy behaviours. This means that stigma can make it more difficult to control the spread of an outbreak” (\
  6. You are doing this for you and others: Last week our President, President Cyril Ramaphosa, relaxed regulations even further, which seems to be a worldwide trend at the moment. Unlike South Africa, the pandemic in most other countries has piqued, yet the motions of life in South Africa are being restored. I do not envy him his task of balancing life and livelihood. With this is in mind, I realised that to ensure one with the other, each of us has a role to play. In the words of John Donne:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

John Donne 1572-1631

If each one of us remains vigilant and overcomes complacency, then we can keep all of us safe. Wear your masks, wash your hands, sanitise and maintain social distances – together we can overcome this.  

Stay safe.


Ms Teresa Yell is Kingswood College’s Educational Psychologist and has practiced in the field for 15 years. She completed her postgraduate studies at RAU (Rand Afrikaans University) and her undergraduate degree at the UND (University of Natal, Durban). She is mother to two children, a daughter and son. She was the resident psychologist at both Dainfern College and Christ Church College in Johannesburg for nine years and ran a busy private practice from her home. They moved to Makhanda (Grahamstown) in 2016, and live on a small farm outside of town.


  • The dangers of falling into the trap of complacency. The definitive guide to self-improvement. Accessed June 2020.
  • Donne, J (1572-1631). No man is an Island accessed June 2020
  • High Watch Recovery Centre What are the dangers of Complacency February 2019 accessed June 2020
  •   Why complacency poses a grave Covid-19 risk.  May 2020. Accessed June 2020
  • Fickling, D. February 2020. Coronavirus complacency is worse than Panic. accessed June 2020
  • CBC News. May 21. Alberta’s top doctor warns public against COVID-19 complacency. Accessed June 2020
  • Pink Floyd, Comfortably Numb from The Wall , 1979.
  • Reducing Stigma (
  • Tribune online,