Don’t let lockdown consume you: 10 tips to keep you going

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Don’t let lockdown consume you: 10 tips to keep you going

Never in my 20+ years as a consumer journalist have I felt this helpless, but lockdown need not be that bad

Consumer journalist
LIFE ON PAWS
Image: 123rf/Svetlna Valuiskaya

I’m writing this on Day 1 of lockdown, and we’ve just had news of SA’s first Covid-19 death, a tragic, sobering reminder of why we’re staying at home.

As is the news that Madrid turned its ice rink into a makeshift mortuary, with Spain’s death toll topping 4,000. That country’s first death from Covid-19 was on February 13 – just six weeks ago.

Meanwhile, in China factories have reopened, but their major customers are in countries where the pandemic is far from under control, resulting in mass cancelled orders and creating a second wave of disaster for the country.

We South Africans were “gifted” a rate cut. But as Jasson Urbach of the Free Market Foundation wrote in an opinion piece, “the Reserve Bank’s ‘hail Mary’ 100-basis-point rate cut was the proverbial Band-Aid on a patient with a chronic heart condition who has just lost a limb.

“It will do little to reduce the need for immediate action or alter the underlying economic meltdown.”

As the deluge of “I need a refund for my cancelled holiday/wedding” e-mails in my inbox has slowed to a trickle and the “my business is dead; I can’t pay my bond, and my bank’s not offering any meaningful help” e-mails are on the rise, I’m bracing for that meltdown.

Never in my 20+ years as a consumer journalist have I felt this helpless.

The corporates I usually approach day after day, on behalf of customers they’re alleged to have wronged in some way, are crying too now.

Literally, in the case of Edcon CEO Grant Pattison, who broke down on a conference call to suppliers on Thursday when telling them he couldn’t pay them because the company was R400m below predicted sales and cash for the month. And that’s before lockdown.

We all have a lot of adapting to do in this strange new world; to keep alive, to keep earning money, to keep from going mad as we’re confined to our homes for three weeks, and to keep positive.

I’m guessing many are adapting to making food from scratch rather than ordering restaurant meals off a delivery app or cruising to the takeaway.

Lockdown need not be all bad.

Peter Martin (@PeterMartin_PCM), a political reporter for Bloomberg News in Beijing, posted a thread on Twitter that I’m hoping you draw comfort from, as I did.

“So you’re going crazy under lockdown?

“I know the feeling. I’ve been in Beijing for the last two months. My housemate is away and I’m thousands of miles from my family.

“I have some thoughts on how to make lockdown better. These won’t apply to everyone, but they ring true for me:

1) Know things will get better.

“The first few weeks felt pretty oppressive, but now I’m kind of used to it.

“Even if the lockdown goes on longer than expected, you’ll get used to your new environment and are likely to grow more comfortable with your own company.

2) Have a routine. Fill it with stuff that makes you feel good.

“It might be home workouts, cooking, or learning something new. It might be a TV show that calms you.

“You’ll get your work done, but don’t let that become your only focus.

3) Be careful with technology.

“Seeing pictures of and doing video calls with loved ones has made this whole experience much easier to deal with. Don’t underestimate the difference between hearing someone say they’re doing OK and seeing it with your own eyes. On the other hand…

“… my social media feeds are full of anxiety-inducing outrage and doom-mongering.

“I need social media for my work, but I’ve started logging out of Twitter when I’m done with my workday, and I’m limiting my time on Facebook. It helps.

4) Appreciate little changes that improve your life.

“In my part of Beijing, so few people have been on the streets that strangers now nod as they pass each other. It’s a small thing, but it’s kind of beautiful, and it reminds me of the small town in England where I grew up.

5) Don’t hate yourself for not being constantly productive.

“We trick ourselves into thinking all time at the office is well-spent. It’s not. Your day at home will include idle moments and that’s OK.

6) Accept that you’re stressed.

“You’re worried about yourself. Your family. Your friends. The world. And there’s a sense of fear in the air. Don’t try to talk yourself out of it.

“Tell your friends. Write it down. Meditate. Exercise. Do whatever you need to do to deal with it.

7) Talking of stress, don’t feel guilty that you’re consumed with your own feelings when others (doctors, the elderly, the socially isolated) have it harder.

“Your stress is real too. And unless you deal with it properly, you won’t be able to support others.

8) You’re going to have off days when you just feel really crappy and sorry for yourself.

“That’s OK. It would be kind of strange if you didn’t. Take some time off. Do nothing. Relax.

“Write a line under the bad day when you’re done and start a new one tomorrow.

9) Write to people you don’t contact often enough and ask how they’re doing.

“I was really touched when people did this for me. Others will appreciate it when you reach out. The social contact and sense of solidarity will probably make you feel good too.

10) Above all, be forgiving.

“We’re all stressed. We all have different ways of coping. And we all experience moments when it’s too much.

“If you or others don’t live up to your usual standards, try to move on and get back to binge-watching your favourite crappy show.”

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