Are we as social beings capable of enduring the mandatory home confinement?
As the world responds to the Corona virus pandemic (COVID-19); governments globally has put strict measures in place. In a few hours South Africa will undergo a mandatory 21 day lock down. A historic moment indeed. As announced on Monday, 23 March by President Cyril Ramaphosa this lockdown will start at midnight on Thursday, 26 March and end at midnight on Thursday, 16 April 2020. Or so we all hope as government will re-evaluate the situation after 14 days.
Reducing social contact will flatten the curve and alleviate the pressure on health services. Allowing only essential workers to leave their homes; confining the rest of the population to the square meterage of their homes. Access outside will only be allowed to visit the supermarket for essential goods, pharmacies or to seek medical assistance.
I agree whole heatedly that it was the best decision to enforce a national lockdown. Personally my family and I will give our full cooperation and will adhere to the strict measures enforced on us. We doing this not only for the health and safety of our immediate family but for the millions of other people in our country. But I have to mention that as social beings who love to be outdoors, visit family and friends, attend social events and have always had the freedom of movement; this is something that does not come naturally to us. We need that social connection with others to stimulate us, to bring us comfort, to cope and to escape from daily stresses. As much as we will cooperate being socially restricted will have an effect on our psychological wellbeing.
In order for us to cope during this difficult time, we have put a few measures in place.
Having a daily routine is imperative. Remember we are not use to working remotely and as of 31 March, the kids will continue with school work they received via Google classroom. Therefore, structure and a daily routine is vital so that we remain disciplined.
Get Up, Dress Up, Show Up
A house rule has been implemented that everyone must be out of bed by 08h30 so that we know when the day is supposed to start. By this time all beds must be made followed by bathroom routines and then breakfast. This is quite lenient compared to the normal work week wake up time which range between 04h00 – 05h30.
No parading in pjs. Everyone must get dressed (of course not in our work and school attire) in comfortable clothes and look presentable. Showing up to tackle the day avoids procrastination to set it, it allows us to persevere, take control and to be productive.
With loads to do there will hopefully be no time for boredom to set in. Our work and school tasks will take priority which will take up a few hours of our day. With the kids assisting with chores; time has been built in to do housework, de-clutter, get organised and do personal admin.
Food comforts us when we feel lonely and isolated. During this time, it will be difficult not to snack constantly and therefore limitation and moderation will have to be enforced to avoid piling on extra weight. But without the temptation of getting junk food; it affords us the opportunity to eat more fruit and vegetables and to cook nutritious meals that will boost our immune system.
Fortunately, we don’t have gym memberships to worry about. But as we are not allowed to go for walks or daily runs, we have to find alternatively ways to exercise in the comfort of our home. We dusted off the exercise bike, took out the kettlebells, dumbbells and fitness dvds.
It is important that we make daily telephone calls to immediate family not only for our own sanity but to check whether our elderly parents are coping, to sense vulnerability and to give the necessary positive support from a distance. Connections with friends will be via telephone, Whatsapp, Skype and social media.
Reading books creates brain stimulation, increases knowledge and promotes relaxation which takes our minds off things. It’s surprising how quick time goes by once you are hooked on a good book.
Usually our kids don’t watch TV during a school. During the lockdown period we slacking the rules and they will most probably catch up on all the TV time missed in the past. But it is what it is as long as we have control over what they are watching.
Doing fun things together as a family will help us connect, cope and bring about some form of emotional stability. Craft activities, painting, DIY projects, gardening and playing board games are just a few activities that we have lined up.
During this time, it is important that Brent and I acknowledge our own emotions and what our needs are. This will give us an understanding of our emotions, control how we react to situations and to give support to each other, our daughters and family.
Looking after ourselves during this time will make us feel good and refreshed. Self-care approaches would include continuously practicing good hygiene, grooming, mani’s, pedi’s, facials as well as occasional afternoon naps.
Avoid an Overload of Coronavirus Coverage
Although it is important to stay informed about the COVID-19 pandemic; we are also mindful that watching excessive coverage or reading too much about the virus can make us feel anxious and paranoid. To avoid rumours and fake news, credible websites will be checked.
This is a time to be kind and to reach out to others even if it is from a distance.
Gratitude allows one to reflect and to be appreciative of what we have and the situation that we find ourselves in. Keeping a journal of what we are thankful for will be good for our mental health.
We are all in this together. To maintain calm and hope it is important for us affirm our faith and to pray about the pandemic and for those who are infected by it. God’s protective hand is over all of us.
Look at the Positives
This is the time for us to slow down, to breathe, take control of our lives without the constant distractions of the outside world. There is no rush, no traffic and unnecessary demands that requires us to react quickly. Isn’t that just fantastic.
So as we enter into the final hours before we go into a national lockdown, just know that as social beings enduring the mandatory home confinement will not be easy. We will be tested physically and psychologically. But we are resilient, this will give us a new perspective on life and we will come out stronger than ever.
Keep calm and stay safe!