Day 313 of Lockdown today in South Africa. I was talking with a friend recently who asked me how I was coping currently. “Clinging to the wreckage” was my flippant answer. His response? “At least you have something to cling to”. It was not the reply I was expecting and it got me thinking about my situation as a non-travelling travel writer and how that has affected my earning capacity over the past year. Oh, how I laughed when the initial 21 days was announced. I can use the time to catch up on so many projects…And little did I believe that what we all thought of as a ‘holiday’, would turn into a way of life that would cause the death of so many, the loss of jobs across the board and would leave no one untouched by the pandemic in one way or another. I am not as badly off as others that I know. Those in the entertainment industry for instance who have seen their savings dwindle to virtually nothing while not being able to work. And then the (ir)relevant Minister has the audacity to state that theatre is alive.
There have been, and still are, days when I would gladly walk into an ocean and try to swim away from the pandemic and all that it entails. What have I been doing to stop the mental and physical rot? Here are my Top 10 Lockdown Tips, based on my prevailing circumstances.
1] Try to exercise regularly. I used to be a marathon runner that looked down on those who walked for exercise. Now I am that walker. I try to do between 5 and 7 km during the week and then 10+km on a Sunday. I take Monday off as a rest day. Having these outings to look forward to has done wonders for my mental health. I walk several different routes and find new ones on a weekly basis. Not running to time, I can enjoy the time on the road(I tend to steer clear of parks due to the increases in muggings AND uncaring dog owners who never clean up after their pets) to try and resolve problems and COVID-19 induced stress.
2] Have a routine. Get up at the same time, have meals at the usual times and more importantly, get dressed! You don’t have to be in a suit and tie but ditch the PJ’s.
3] Try to maintain a healthy diet without too much snacking. It is so easy to become complacent when it comes to calorie intake and the weight sneaks up on you when you least expect it. I have now lost the 9kg’s that lockdown put on me and by eating less red meat and bread, I hope to keep it off.
4] Be considerate. We might all be in the same storm, but we are certainly not all in the same boat
5] Try to remain positive. Not easy when most of what we are experiencing is controlled by others.
6] Turn your weekend back into just a weekend. If you did not work on weekends prior to March 27th, then why are you working on them now. If you can ‘switch off’ for Saturday and Sunday, then, Like the Nike advert, “Just do it”!
7] If you are working from home, make set working hours. Office working hours are usually 08h30 to 17h00 with morning and afternoon breaks and a proper lunchtime. If you are working from home, then stick to this regime. Otherwise, it becomes more like sleeping at the office than working from home.
8] Set boundaries. You can say “NO”.
9] Not your circus, NOT your monkeys. Don’t listen to the naysayers or the conspiracy theorists. And DO NOT make comments on social media if it is not your area of expertise. If fact, steer clear of social media at ALL costs.
10] Communicate. This is probably one of the most important steps. Miscommunication in this time of stress and uncertainty can grow into a Kracken of note that will come back to haunt you when you least expect it.
In summation, not all of the above work for me every day and the dark shadow of anxiety and frustration still raise their collective heads on a regular basis. It has been an ongoing battle for the past 11 months and will no doubt continue for the foreseeable future.
But staying with the ‘walk into the ocean’ analogy, I spot beauty on the beach and I stop to take stock of what I do have. I have a roof over my head, food on the table and a couple of clients who are still paying me. I also have a loving wife and daughter, both of whom bring me joy for different reasons.
Where does the wreckage come from and possibly more importantly, where will it go once there is some sort of normalcy?
Are we as the human race, as this plastic, never going to leave this planet? Many WILL die from COVID-19 and complications brought about by the virus, but we are a resilient bunch and don’t give up easily. But some days are harder than others and it becomes an internal struggle (for me anyway) to get motivated on a constant and consistent basis.
But as surely as night follows day, the sun WILL come out tomorrow. Although in Johannesburg we have not really witnessed a sunrise for the past 2 weeks given the inclement weather and the extraordinary amount of rain that the city has experienced thanks in part to Hurricane Eloise.
Although we live in Johannesburg, my wife seems to be happy that the beaches will be re-opened…even if she can only watch from afar! Much like the bush is my happy space, the coast is hers and we don’t get there nearly enough. In 2020, neither of us spent much time in our respective “happy places” and we are uncertain as to whether this will change much in 2021. As long as the virus is with us, we intend to limit our travel plans to places that do not see many guests.
In the most recent instalment of “My Fellow South Africans“, we, the citizens were informed that Level 3 will be maintained, the sale of alcohol, despite what our Minister of Police says, has been relaxed and now that the holidays are over, beaches etc have been re-opened. The curfew now begins at 23h00 and will end at 04h00. The conspiracy theorists abound now that the vaccines have arrived in South Africa and the anti-maskers are still very much in evidence, bleating that their Constitutional Rights are being infringed. I wonder if those who complain the most obey any of the other laws that are in place to save lives, like wearing seatbelts.
Until next time stay safe, stay healthy and be aware.
South African Depression and Anxiety Group. 011 234 4837
LifeLine Connect number. 011 728 1347
“Every minute someone leaves this world behind.
We are all in “the line” without knowing it.
We never know how many people are before us.
We can not move to the back of the line.
We can not step out of the line.
We can not avoid the line.
So while we wait in line –
Make moments count.
Make the time.
Make your gifts known.
Make a nobody feel like a somebody.
Make your voice heard.
Make the small things big.
Make someone smile.
Make the change.
Make sure to tell your people they are loved.
Make sure to have no regrets.
Make sure you are ready.”