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Explainer: How to prepare for a lockdown

Thursday March 26 2020
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A police personnel beats a man on a street in India during a government-imposed lockdown as a preventive measure against the spread of the Covid-19 novel coronavirus on March 24, 2020. PHOTO | DIPTENDU DUTTA | AFP

By JAMES KAHONGEH

You may have heard about a lockdown.

Also called confinement, this is a situation where people’s free movement is restricted as a security measure or health emergency.

When an area, state or country is on lockdown, schools shopping malls, offices and other public places may be shut down to allow the authorities to deal with the prevailing threat.

As the global pandemic of the coronavirus bites on, some countries around the world have declared a lockdown to curtail its spread.

China, for instance, has been on lockdown for nearly two months now, with only providers of healthcare and other critical services allowed to go out.

The Chinese government has also been providing families with food and other supplies during this time.  

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But what should you do in readiness for a lockdown?

What activities can you engage in at the time of a lockdown? Ordinarily, time flies, but during a lockdown, you suddenly have so much time with little to do.

The hours may seem to drag and days become longer.

It’s important to remember that while it’s stressful and highly inconveniencing, a lockdown is a temporary experience.

Worth noting too is that there’s no one-size-fits-all way to prepare for a lockdown and that preparedness varies from case to case.

We sample some of steps you could take to cushion yourself and your family from the psychological distress and the inconvenience of this imposed isolation.

Get the essentials

  • Have a stockpile of food to last you for a considerable length of time.
  • Prioritise on non-perishable varieties such as rice, spaghetti, pasta, flour, maize mill, beans, green grams, powder milk, long life milk and breakfast cereals.
  • Stock your kitchen with salt, sugar, dry spices, ketchup, cooking oil and water treatment chemicals.
  • Refill your gas cylinder. For consumers of prepaid electricity, buy enough tokens –you can buy more on the go.
  • Have other alternative means of energy in the house just in case.
  • Buy enough drinking, washing an cooking water.
  • If you keep pets, stock up enough food for them.

Besides food, stock up other essentials such as toothpaste, soap, hand sanitisers, masks, gloves and toilet paper, pads, vinegar, bleach and methylated spirit.

Have enough medicine (such as painkillers, antihistamines, antacids, decongestants, cough syrup for children and bandages) in the house to take care of emergencies. 

Prepare financially

Being caught up in a financial whirlwind during a lockdown can be devastating.

It’s especially troubling when you’re uncertain about when the situation is likely to end. 

Savings usually come in handy to address any disruption of income. 

If some people owe you, it’s probably time to ask them to pay up.

You could also renegotiate payment plans with your lenders to avoid a financial strain. 

Have enough cash with you and mobile money.

Develop a routine

Having activities to do during this time will help you to stay productive and to keep boredom at bay.

To stay organised, identify the activities that you need to carry out during the period.

Cleaning, fitness training, working and minding the children should all have specific time allocations.

Set goals for each of these activities by the end of this period.

Make it a habit to strictly follow the timetable to avoid wastage of time and chaos.

Handling children

Taking care of children, while it may seem easy, is very strenuous task.

Having to spend weeks indoors with them can be particularly wearying, both physically and emotionally,  

Psychologists advise that you look for activities that tire them out as much as possible.

The idea is to engage them closely and to keep them from mischief and distracting you from work.

Look up fun activities for children online.

Outdoor activities are recommended as it helps them with physical fitness.

Working remotely

You may be working from home already, which makes it slightly easier to cope in the event that a total lockdown is imposed.

Establish a strict but easy to follow work routine, by selecting flexible hours when you can be most productive.  

To avoid distractions, choose the quietest room in the house to create a temporary office.

Have a desk, a laptop or a computer, a telephone (your smartphone should suffice), stationery and anything else that you need to work efficiently.

Even dress up for the work to break the monotony of pyjamas and t-shirt. When you dress up for work, you’re psychologically attuned to work.

Fitness is key

With a lockdown, you’ll obviously be cut off from your hangout places, including your gym.

With minimal movement and physical activities to perform, keeping fit is more important for not just those who work out frequently, but those who rarely do so as well.

Working out at home is cheaper, convenient and, with a little innovation, fun too.

It’s important to know the range of exercises that you can perform, and the equipment you need for this.

Cardio activities, stretches, rope jumps, sit-ups, squats and push-ups are easy to perform, and require no specialised equipment. 

Buy skipping ropes, a training kit and a water bottle.

If you take a walk, do so.

Plan for entertainment

You will need to stay entertained during this period, to help you break the monotony of work, handling the kids and attending to household chores. 

Build a music playlist to take you through the period of isolation and update it regularly.

Isolation allows you to watch a movie that you haven’t found time to watch yet.

Play computer games with your children.

Follow updates

With isolation, the media and social media are your only link to events happening in the world.

A time of a pandemic is high season for an information overload and misinformation.

Consume information only from credible media outlets and other reliable sources.

Minimise your social media use as this often a fertile ground for misleading information.

Reading is therapeutic

Watching too much news can be quite depressing, especially where thousands of infections and deaths are being reported.

Reading comes in handy as an escape from the depressing news and long hours on social media.

Read online stories, read blogs, books and magazines on your favourite topics.

Read for fun and to acquire essential knowledge and to acquire skills.

Avoid total isolation

A lockdown isn’t an excuse to be completely cut off from the rest of the world.

Life goes on even with the confinement. 

Being completely isolated may yield boredom and psychological unease.

Keep tabs on various things by engaging your friends on social media.

Occasionally call your workmates and know how they’re getting on. Video call them if possible.

Don’t be caught up out of place

Being in the wrong country at this time can be hugely inconveniencing.

It could cost you a lot of money that you may not have budgeted for.  

Before travelling to a country at this time of the Coronavirus, find out about its isolation status.

Avoid travelling to countries that are on lockdown such as China, Italy and some states in the US.

If you must travel to such a country or region, do so before a lockdown has taken effect.

Seek professional help if necessary

The sudden change of routine may take a heavy toll on you. The ability to cope with such sharp changes varies with individuals.  

If feeling overwhelmed, speak to a therapist for advice.

You can reach out through email, a phone call or a video chat.

Have a doctor on speed dial in case of a serious health emergency.

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