Corona Diaries #4 – Living La Vida Lockdown

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Somehow there was an element of relief to be locked down in my house. I felt a sense of calm amidst the craziness of a previous couple of weeks. Safe knowing that we would not have to go out for a while. Now it was a matter of living in coronavirus lockdown South Africa and surviving.

Life in Lockdown

We were all geared up to work from home for a few weeks and that concept seemed quite novel. The biggest downside was not being able to go out and ride my bike. I love my mountain biking so this was going to be a big sacrifice.

Despite living on a wildlife estate the authorities had prohibited moving around inside estates. It was frowned upon and not seen as being in the spirit of stay at home. For a total of 21 days we were going to be at home, only allowed to go out for emergencies or food and medicine.

I realised how dependent we were on so many things once we were into lockdown. There were no more takeaways, alcohol was not for sale so you had to rely on your own stock. Supermarkets only sold food and hardware stores were closed so any DIY to be done had to be preplanned or boer maak a plan. Cleaning the house and mowing the lawn were to become  regular chores for the next few weeks.

The relative importance of various items had changed and the Accidental Fire Blog came up with this graph.

Work From Home

I am no stranger to working from home as I have currently been working 1 or 2 days a week from home. There was also a period of 6 years when I was self employed and I was working from home full time.

Thinking back to the time when I worked from home fulltime, I had a dedicated home office. That was ideal, a separate different space only for working. My current situation is our study, although very comfortable it is shared with the rest of the family. This is not really ideal, especially for all day and every day.

The business I work in has not been operating but I have had more than enough work to do. Time spent working on some future strategies and making sure that our plans for later in the year stay on track.

It gets a bit tricky when I have an online meeting and my wife is also on a call, and then my son has to do his online schooling. Inevitably there is a shuffle, okay I’ll stay, you go out, I am nearly done, ok I’ll go out, you know what a mean.

The Pause, Time to Reflect

The time to spend at home with family without distractions is one of the real benefits of this lockdown. That is if you get on with your family of course, luckily I do. However having a pre teen at home without any chance to go out was also going to be a bit of a challenge.

Luckily our property has space and garden so there is plenty of room outside and space to play soccer and run around a bit. I found myself really appreciating that we lived outside of town. Living in a rural area with lots of space, it’s a great opportunity to enjoy what we have.

For all of us this time has allowed us to slow down a bit and take a step back to look at the world as a whole as well as our own little world. With my conversations with friends and family they have told me the same thing. It has allowed us to see life differently. A rare opportunity to take stock of where we are.

The biggest realisations are around health and wealth. This crisis has exposed the choices that we have made recently regarding our health and finances. Suddenly we are a lot more conscious of how unhealthy our lives have become. With the threat of a virus taking you down, being healthy and having a strong immunity is important.

Financial security for countries, companies, and individuals now becomes critical. Failing to plan for the bad times in the good times is being exposed. Now spending time with family at home, we realise we may have been taking friends and family for granted because we can’t see them when we want to.

Information Overload

The tsunami of COVID-19 information  was still coming in and it was rather overwhelming. I realised that I had to start ignoring some of it otherwise we would go completely bonkers during this lockdown. So I have scaled back and trying to just get back to normality.

It has also been a great opportunity to tackle that ever-growing to-do list and spend some time getting my blog up to speed, hence these articles. Learning a new skill or doing online courses has been a good way to constructively use this downtime.

The innovation and creativity of people during this time has been unbelievable. Most amazing for me has been all of the different ways people have been staying fit or even trying to get fit and do something constructive like learning something new.

In these uncertain times and a crisis like this you have to deal with the situation positively. It has been important to accept the situation and focus on what you can control and ignore what you cant. This illustration was originally done by @parteaguaspodcast in Spanish. It shows how we should move from the left inner circle to the outer circle.

Originates from Instagram 23 march @parteaguaspodcast

Surviving Lockdown

As a cyclist I have many friends all in the same boat as me, unable to get out and ride. But when you have that routine and an exercise bug second to none you make a plan to keep going. I have an indoor trainer so between that and a routine of strength exercises I have kept my routine going.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the right equipment to get online with some of the online training portals like Zwift so Im stuck on my own. For those who can, Zwift has gone to the next level with people doing 100+ km rides on their bikes, meetups and even some 24h challenges.

Instagram has been full of home workouts, challenges riding around the house, iron man events in the backyard, marathons in driveways, just really crazy stuff.

This cool video from The Kiffness parodies what it is like living in coronavirus lockdown South Africa.

7 Hacks to Survive Lockdown

I came across this really cool blog post from Money Life Wax Blog titled 7 Quarantining Life Hacks: From “Mental Survival” to “Money Tips”.

The sound advice from this post was

“I quickly realized I had two options:

1. I could freak myself out and possibly reduce my immune system and make things even worse
2. I could focus on ONLY the things I could control and do my best to forget what I couldn’t.”

I could identify with those 7 hacks and my interpretation of them has been as follows

  1. Avoid the doom and gloom news – just check the main stuff and relevant to your area then move on
  2. Rather find and enjoy the comedy( hence me starting the reruns of Sienfeld) and funny stuff, we have plenty of this in SA.
  3. Just hold tight, save and keep your cash as your expenses should be lower now
  4. Use the time to do something constructive – exercise, read, learn new skills, start something new
  5. Be grateful for what you have, especially if you are reading this, be very grateful
  6. Find a new positive routine at home
  7. Acknowledge the crisis and recognize what you cant change but focus on how you react to it and what you can do with what you have.

The New Normal

After a couple of weeks the new normal started to set in and we were getting used to the public addresses from the President. Days seemed like weeks as still so much happened around the world daily. There was a lot of speculation about an extension of the first 21 day lockdown. Many other countries had extensions.

Once again on April 9 we were gathered for Ramaphosas national address, he announced that the lockdown was working and the spread had slowed. However we needed a further 2 weeks extension up to 30 April. It was appreciated that the announcement was timeous a week before but nevertheless disappointing. Once again we made more plans and adjustments for the extension. The rising concern though was the escalating effect on the economy, especially small businesses and the poor.

This presentation developed by Professor Salim Abdool Karim showed data reflecting South Africa’s efforts to fight COVID-19 and projections for the future.

Cabin fever became real after a month of lockdown, the novelty had worn off and people were getting tired. Unfortunate incidents of looting of liquor stores and food distribution trucks were increasing. The economic effects of this extended lockdown were becoming more and more real.

On Monday 20 April President Ramaphosa presented a rather unexpected R500bn stimulus package. This was a significant amount equivalent to 10% of South Africas GDP. It included R200bn loan scheme with banks, R50bn in grants, R100bn for jobs, R70bn in tax relief, R20bn for municipalities and R100m to help front line workers.

This crisis seemed neverending and the scale of it ever-increasing. It made you wonder if and how we would be getting out of this.

How have you coped with lockdown and what was it like for you? Drop a comment below.