My lockdown journey

We hear from Kristen Kimble

While we all eagerly looked forward to April as the last few days of Summer and much-needed public holidays, everything didn’t quite go according to plan. As our country went into lockdown, all our days (including the public holidays) were spent at home and anxiety crept up on us slowly but surely as we headed into the unknown.

For many people, this is a very difficult time and even more so for those people, like myself, who need to feel in control of things and have a clear plan for the future. Unfortunately, like many things in life, we cannot fully control the Covid-19 crisis and the effects it has on our daily lives. While this may cause panic, it also provides us (especially the “control freaks” like myself) with the opportunity to learn to go with the flow and make the best of our current situation. During these past few weeks, I chose to focus on those areas that I can control, providing a level of comfort through this uncertain time.

Routine

As the days blur into one another, it is very easy to sleep in until 10am, watch TV for hours and visit the fridge for another snack every 30 minutes. When life returns to some form of normality, which it will, getting back into our old routine may be very difficult if we have to start from scratch. Therefore, I recommend trying to stick to some kind of routine. Set your alarm so that you don’t sleep in too late and limit your TV viewing time. Lockdown provides us with the perfect opportunity to catch up on studying, assignments or admin we have fallen behind on – a far more productive alternative to watching TV.

Exercise

Just because we are confined to our homes does not mean that we should lie around lazily on the bed or couch all day. Home excerise can be a fun and creative way to get your blood pumping and can even brighten up your mood as it acts as a natural anti-depressant. Switch out the dumbbells for a can of beans or a 1kg bag of rice and get to work!

Feed your Mind

One thing that I have enjoyed most during lockdown is creating new ways to stimulate my mind. Doing it with family or your roommate makes for even more fun. My all-time favourite game of “General Knowledge” always provides for a good laugh and great learning. Card games are also a fun way of passing time. We are never too old to learn new tricks!

Mindfulness

One of the methods that help “bring me back to earth” when I feel too overwhelmed is to practice mindfulness, in particular the grounding exercise. When a bout of anxiety takes hold, we often lose touch with reality as our minds run away with anxious thoughts. One way to reign in your thoughts is to bring your focus back to the here and now. Use your five senses – touch, taste, sight, hearing and smell:

  • Touch – find something close to you and touch it focusing on how it feels. Is it hard or soft, cool or warm?
  • Hearing – listen to your surroundings and try to find at least 3 different sounds. This could be a clock ticking, a dog barking, a car hooting, etc.
  • Sight – take a good look around you. What colour are the walls? What colour is the floor? Are there pictures hanging from the walls?
  • Smell – can you smell anything, maybe something cooking on the stove or a veld fire in the distance?
  • Taste – I find that eating something small like a sweet gives you more to focus on. Is it sweet? Does it have a particular flavour…… mmmm is that strawberry?

You will find that once you have completed the above exercise, you will feel much calmer and your thoughts will be more composed.

As we all try to navigate our new normal, I hope the above tips help to make things a bit easier for you, just as they have helped me.

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