As the Lockdown commenced and got extended the word control has been mauling in my mind like a mantra. Pretty much like the property cliché of “location, location, location”, everything I observe on social media, people’s behaviour and my daily family life screams “control, control, control”.

Initially the impact of control hit me when the world observed the phenomenon known as panic buying. An indication of individuals trying to regain control when uncertainty filled their lives around every corner. In essence, people were stockpiling for the “winter”, or the unknown times that lied ahead. By increasing their inventory at home, they also felt as if they were increasing their own certainty and control.

But the example of control which inspired me to write this post was after Cyril Ramaphosa’s live broadcast to the nation on the 9th of April. His now infamous greeting: “My fellow South Africans” was met with immediate memes and jokes. But at my home his extension of the lockdown was met with sadness, anger, hopelessness and more uncertainty. My wife, Laetia’s, response came with being a business owner and mother of 3 kids under the age of 6. Cyril’s announcement immediately made her feel out of control with regards to her company’s bottom line and meeting our 3 children’s individual needs for a further 2 weeks. As I came walking down the stairs the following morning, I was met with my lovely wife frantically cleaning the house. I immediately knew this early morning cleaning frenzy was not hygiene related but was because of her Type A personality trying to regain control.

We are all trying to somehow regain control created by the uncertainty of the times. Our cleaning rituals have increased as we see more OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) like traits increasing. Our eating habits have probably changed. Some of us are indulging more in emotional eating or restricting our intake. Both aspects of trying to take control or fill the void of not feeling in control. I have observed people reading more and sharing more conspiracy theories during this time. By believing in something as a possible reason, or cause of COVID-19 could give them more understanding of this unknown situation. The better they can understand something, the easier it becomes to control it in their minds. The more tangible and controlled it becomes in their minds, the less anxiety provoking it becomes. Others try and externalise the created unease and anxiety through social media by creating and sharing jokes, memes and various challenges.

The aim of this post is therefore not to create further anxiety but to educate the reader that some of our current behaviours are merely means of attempting to control our fears, worries, uncertainties and anxiety. It then further becomes insensible, to place even more pressure on ourselves during this time. Do not feel forced to use this time to be constructive, to learn a new skill or develop new business plans, etc. The world has literally come to a standstill. Your life, for the time being, has come to a. Standstill. Use this time to relax and rest. Use this time given to us as an opportunity for our soul to catch up with us. Look at the world and yourself with new eyes because we will never be granted the opportunity to bring everything to a halt again. There is currently no rat race, no hustle and bustle, no multitasking, no chaos. You should therefore slow down. Be lenient with yourself during this time and prepare for this lockdown to be lifted. We have seen in the past that the times following these type of events (natural disasters, wars, epidemics, pandemics, etc) leads to more burnout and depressive symptoms. By maybe resting and relaxing now, we can prepare ourselves better for the fast pace, hardships, crises and everything and anything else that lies ahead post-lockdown and post-COVID-19.

Healthy ways to maintain control and take care of yourself during lockdown:

  • Try and schedule times to just rest and relax
  • Reconnect with your inner self by comparing who you are now with yourself 2, 5, 10 or even 40 years back
  • Practice mindfulness techniques
  • Breath
  • Stop
  • Read novels instead of conspiracy theories and academic literature
  • Educate yourself about the virus by only reading accredited news and health articles
  • Catch up on your lost series, movies or video game binge instead of tutorials of bettering yourself or academic articles
  • Spend time with your support system but also remember to spend time with yourself away from others
  • Be careful of creating a too rigid timetable for yourself or your children which must be followed or else…
  • Create a plan of what would be required of yourself post-lockdown and prioritize what needs to be done then

Most importantly, do not put pressure on yourself during this time to start a new diet, skill, or career. Rest, Relax and Reconnect with the parts of yourself you have lost prior to COVID-19. “Relearn” yourself and who you truly are because in the end, the more you connect with yourself, the more in control you will start to feel.