The emotional toll of the ‘hard’ lockdown: an analysis of diary entries from Gauteng, South Africa

Miriam Maina, Sarita Pillay Gonzalez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The research draws from diary entries shared by participants across various urban neighbourhoods and dwellings in Gauteng Province in South Africa during the Level-5 lockdown period. Occurring between 27 March and 1 May 2020, the Level-5 lockdown was severely restrictive, as residents were confined within their homes, and their movement and social activity curtailed. Research has already indicated that this had a negative impact on the mental health and food security of ordinary people. In this paper, we illustrate how participants’ diary entries offer a layered and longitudinal lens to support this emerging research. Notably, analysis of these diary entries illustrates that the 6-week lockdown took an emotional toll on participants across different urban neighbourhoods and dwellings. Furthermore, these diary entries point to the sources of frustration and anxiety being shaded by the spatial and structural location of participants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)328-347
Number of pages20
JournalSouth African Geographical Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Gauteng
  • Lockdown
  • South Africa
  • anxiety
  • mental health
  • social distancing

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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