These are tough, uncertain times, and the best thing we all can do is be kind to ourselves and our neighbours as we all go through it.
Johannesburg, South Africxa (24 March 2020) – Starting on Thursday 26 March 2020 at midnight there will be a mandatory 21-day National Lockdown. Don’t be caught unprepared.
As the number of COVID-19 infections outside China now exceed those within, the masses across the world are starting to panic. Empty grocery store shelves. Fights over toilet paper. Schools closing and sending students home en-mass. Desperate pleas from health workers to stay home when sick unless in truly dire condition.
And this with just 394 000 (and rising by the minute) total worldwide cases (that we know of).
Now, just imagine what the fear factor will be like when that number is 1.7 million. Or 17 million. Or 170 million. Or (and this is possible) 1.7 billion. Shaun Rademeyer, predicts that more national lockdowns — as we’ve seen so far in Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom now South Africa and a fast-increasing number of other countries — are likely to be announced soon.
These will be mandatory quarantines enforced by the police/military.
As coronavirus upends life for more and more people, you might be feeling uncertain or fearful about what’s to come. When that anxiety is coupled with a sudden drop in social contact — whether because you’re quarantined or just working from home for who knows how long — those feelings can feel even more heightened, said Dr Fanie Van Der Linde, GP.
“We don’t realise just how social beings we are until that contact is reduced or diminished because we can’t leave our homes,” commented Van Der Linde.
Shortly after the SARS epidemic in China in the early 2000s, a study on the psychological effects of people quarantined for SARS showed there was a “high prevalence of psychological distress” for people who had been quarantined.
With SARS, there was that sense of isolation,” Van Der Linde said.
“People also didn’t feel that they got consistent or accurate information, and that led to a lot of fear, a lot of anger, frustration, and stress. A lot of people felt very depressed by all of it, and a lot of people had nightmares.”
Those symptoms can be worsened for people who have been exposed to the disease and live with other people, as they may worry about spreading the coronavirus to people they care about.
“Most people aren’t worried for themselves, because they think they’ll get through it, which in and of itself is a coping skill,” said Dr Fanie. “But worry about someone they love, that makes all those psychological symptoms more prominent.”
While we are in a mandatory National Lockdown, there are tons of little ways to prepare yourself that aren’t just buying up your grocery store’s entire stock of beans.
We asked experts, consulted guides, and crowdsourced tips online. Here’s some of our advice:
1. You can eat normal, tasty, healthy foods.
Stocking up on food doesn’t need to be boring dry foods like rice and pasta. We’ll still have power! Freeze foods so you can still make fun, delicious meals. Just because you’re stocking up doesn’t mean you have to live on non-perishable foods and canned vegetables. That’s going to get tiresome really quick, and there are plenty of ways to eat the things you normally would.
Fill your freezer with fresh, flavourful soups. Keep pasta in your pantry and tomato sauce in your freezer. Think about the foods you would want to eat on a typical day; usually, there’s a way to keep those around. The food supply chain is secure and has been declared an essential service, do not panic buy and hoard; you can venture out once a week for fresh supplies, do ensure you buy fresh fruit and vegetables and eat nutrient-dense food that supports your immune system.
2. And remember that food isn’t just about staying alive.
You don’t just need well-balanced meals! You need Cheez-Its, peanut butter cups, popcorn, gummy bears… really whatever snacks you’ll be craving if you’re stuck inside for a while. There has never been a better time to have ingredients around to bake cookies (#IsolationBaking). And if you’re out here thinking meal prep time would be a good time to get super healthy and only eat lentils, get real. These are trying times. Buy the damn candy.
Here is the MultINET Home Loan Head Office’s Favourite All-Bran Rusk Recipe (you have all the time in the world to bake some now), super easy to make and delicious.
ALL BRAN RUSKS
- 6 cups Self-raising flour
- 4 cups All-Bran
- 2 cups Brown Sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 500gr Margarine melted in the microwave
- 2 cups Buttermilk
- 200ml Oil
- 1 cup raisins
- Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the wet ingredients in with the dry ingredients and mix well.
- Put in a 33 x 45 cm rusk tin.
- With an oiled knife mark rusk size out
- Bake for 30 minutes @ 180*C
- Cool completely, cut and put on oven racks to dry at 70*C for 4 hours.
- On that note, don’t forget coffee and tea, if you drink them, and some booze if that’s up your alley.
3. Avoid being too isolated.
Being forced to stay inside might sound like an introvert’s dream come true, but when it’s in the midst of a worldwide epidemic, and everyone is panicking, it’s not such a fun and chill time. It will take one or two days maximum stuck at home to get lonely and stir-crazy.
Check-in with your people. Get on the phone or FaceTime and call your family and friends with some regularity — you’ll probably need it, and so will they.
And if someone you know actually gets quarantined, or gets infected with the virus, be there for them as much as you (safely) can. Call them, or just send a playlist, some memes, or links
“People [need to] know who to call if they do start getting symptoms, [and] know there is somebody who is going to check in on them, that they’re not just going to be isolated and forgotten about,” said Van Der Linde “If you’re afraid you’re going to get sick, what you really need and want is to know that somebody is going to care for you.”
4. Get a little fitness in.
There are plenty of workouts you can do from the comfort of your own home, and doing so can seriously help your mental health. There are a bunch of exercises you can do without any equipment, and YouTube has tons of channels that offer instruction in everything from yoga to Pilates to strength training. And if you can still go outside in your garden, nothing beats a bit of gardening, and the extra Vitamin D is great for your immune system.
5. Clean your home.
Do a deep clean and purge; if you are going to be holed up there, you will need it to be as clean, organised and uncluttered as possible. Not only does it protect against the spread of illness, but it also makes being cooped up in your home a lot more pleasant. Finish that big list of spring-cleaning chores you may have been putting off or never have time for.
6. Go online, but beware.
When the SARS epidemic broke out in 2002, Facebook, Twitter, and even Myspace did not yet exist. Now, people are far more digitally connected, and the ability to keep in touch over social media and video chat can have major benefits on mental health during isolation. “It shortens distances between people,” Dr Fanie said. But the internet also creates issues that didn’t exist during SARS — namely, the spread of misinformation.
“People are afraid, and that’s okay — we are human, there are things in our lives that are going to scare us, and this is one of them,” said Shaun Rademeyer CEO of Multinet. “But how we handle that fear, fear can be lessened by access to accurate information.”
7. Plan out your entertainment.
Watch the news, for sure, but don’t just stay glued to the news. “The worst thing people can do is sit around and watch TV or watch their screens and look for the hourly update of numbers,” Vander Linde said. “I think that just exaggerates the symptoms of fear and its effects.”
You know all those shows and movies you’ve been meaning to watch but never get around to? Make a list — yes, an actual list — of the titles, and you’ll never run out of things to watch. But if spending too much time looking at screens is driving you nuts, shut it down.
Get out a bunch of books from all the free library resources available. Pull out the board games and puzzles. Have some craft supplies on hand, if that’s your thing and knit or crochet for worthy causes such as 67 Blankets for Mandela Day, winter is coming and the homeless need blankets soon “Rademeyer commented.
8. Seek professional help if you’re really struggling.
Whether you’ve been to a therapist before or are just realising you might need to see one, seeking help with your mental health doesn’t need to wait till you can go outside again. Lots of therapists offer sessions over the phone or video chat. There are also apps to help you with your mental health.
9. If you’re working from home, do it right.
Working from home sounds like the dream — pyjamas all day, slacking off, working from the couch! — but it can get bleak and unproductive pretty quickly if it’s not approached the right way.
Rademeyer works from home on a regular basis, and many of his regional teams work from remote home bases. He advises people new to the WFH life to try to keep a regular routine as much as possible, including getting dressed and grooming yourself like you usually would, eating breakfast, and having a ritual to signal a transition into the workday, like taking a walk.
“The getting dressed bit is a bit of a trope, [but] if you don’t put the effort into yourself, you won’t put effort into anything else,” Rademeyer says. And actually, seeing and speaking to people matters too, he said. He suggests holding meetings over video chat — and actually turning the camera on for them.
“Luckily my wife is at home with me as well so we can chat with each other and have lunch together, but if she wasn’t, I’d be desperate for human interaction,” he said.
10. Remember to stay healthy and practice good hygiene.
Information is power, and having the right info can be helpful in stopping yourself from freaking out. You don’t need to go overboard on research, but it’s a good idea to be aware of what you should do if you do think you’ve contracted the coronavirus. The easiest way to stay healthy is to maintain proper hygiene. You don’t need a face mask (unless you’re sick), but you should be washing your hands regularly (and remember, soap and water is just as effective as hand sanitiser).
“These are tough, uncertain times, and the best thing we all can do is be kind to ourselves and our neighbours as we all go through it. Stay at home and #FlattenTheCurve “Rademeyer concludes.