Updated: Mar 30, 2020
My wise friend Kalyani Pillay, past CEO of SABRIC, has been going through her own challenges. Kalyani is one of the MOST optimistic and selfless individuals, I am blessed to know. She took the time to pen some of her learnings and coping mechanisms.
"As I sit and contemplate the days from midnight on 26 March to midnight on 16 April, I soon realised that this is not going to be too different for me. Since late August 2019, I have not been back to my office, to my normal work and my committed and passionate team.
The Covid-19 pandemic certainly woke me up when I realised that it would inevitably reach our troubled land too. We are in a recently declared technical recession, our unemployment rate has escalated, our economy has shrunk and our electricity has been going out between 4 and 8 hours a day at times.
But nothing occupies and troubles my mind like the Covid-19 virus does. Being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer didn’t trouble me as the virus does. Suddenly, we are all facing a serious health issue that has the potential to end in death. To date, 2 deaths have already been recorded.
People have been running around trying to prepare for the lockdown, shopping in panic and selfishly at that. Others have been trying to get medication and other necessities. I believe with the numbers soaring and the fact some are not adhering strictly to the announcement made by Government, the 21-day lockdown could extend beyond this time. I am, however, trying to be my usual positive self and remain optimistic that we will, through our own discipline, overcome this virus.
I realised that the ‘isolation’ and sudden deviation from the normal everyday life was known to me. I may not be an expert but it was quite a drastic change that I had to learn how to deal with. The upside of the virus is that these measures are temporary, provided that all comply. Mine, unfortunately, is permanent in many areas, but I remain optimistic.
It felt like, in my normal life, I was listening to heavy rock music and suddenly there was just silence. I started to feel down and complained that I have no one to talk to. My husband has been working from home for more than 3 years now, so being home for him is not strange with the lockdown.
I feel really embarrassed to say this, but having always been independent and super organised, rushing from one meeting to another, and strategically leading teams, to suddenly having a huge fullstop placed before me, made me behave out of character. My husband who has been super attentive to my needs when I was less capacitated than now, and who took over running our home, including cooking daily, had at no time fallen short on any of the tasks thrust upon him.
As I said my reactions to certain situations were out of character and this was after I had improved significantly and was becoming somewhat independent again, except for driving. I would get ready for the day, have breakfast with my husband and then he would go off to meetings or work from his home office. From the time I began working, almost 33 years ago, I always had people around me at the office or wherever I went. But suddenly I was faced with NO ONE TO TALK TO. Without much thought, I would pop into the study to comment on something I read or thought about, not realising that I often disturbed my husband’s train of thought or what he was working on. When I got little response in those circumstances, I defaulted to feeling sorry for myself, feeling that I would have to resign myself to this new boring life, and I have never done well with ‘boring’.
While feeling quite sorry for myself, I suddenly remembered my 48-hour rule. I had two days to sort myself out. I planned a routine to keep myself busy, some of it functional, some necessary for my wellbeing and some to feed my passion for the things I love doing. I might add, some of these my husband and I do together. I realised and respected that my husband needs to work undisturbed, as I did when I worked from home, that like I needed time alone at times, so did he too. Fortunately, being together for 39 years great years helps to sort out any issue easily. Of course, I suppose it’s normal that most women talk a lot and most men pretend to listen.
The purpose of this is that couples, go through this all the time and Covid-19 is going to put this to the test. My two cents worth to consider, given some of my experiences of late:
Start off on the premise that while we are in lockdown for 3 weeks, you will make it a pleasant and memorable time.
Schedule time for activity in the morning before breakfast - like meditation, yoga, or any other exercise. If your kids are old enough, let them join you.
Alternate making simple and on some days fancy meals. If your partner/spouse can’t cook, now’s the time to learn and make at least two simple meals a week. Elaborate is probably out as we need to keep shopping to essentials. This way they would learn to make 6 meals in 3 weeks. They may even surprise you by enjoying it. And don’t fuss about the mess, you can help to clean up. The bright side is that you can even cook together and the household could end up with an extra cook beyond Covid-19.
Eat healthily and don’t overindulge in sweets and snacks. As most of us are going to be less active at this time, we need to be mindful of what we’re eating. Drink your 2 litres of water a day and eat fruit if you feel like eating in between meals. The odd packet of crisps or a small bar of chocolate or a cookie occasionally should be fine.
Allow each other the space and time to work as it’s not a holiday for most people.
Find something fun or exciting to do together, like taking turns to come up with a song that you want to listen to together each evening or even dance to. I can assure you, you will end up listening to more music than only watching telly.
Be spontaneous if an idea comes to mind and if you can do it without leaving your home, then go for it.
Be mindful and tolerant of those within your next 21-day space, and never forget your precautionary measures.
Finally, psych yourself and your family for the possibility of an extended period of lockdown. Be happy, productive, safe and well."
Writer - Kalyani Pillay
Kalyani thank you for sharing your story, your wisdom and learnings. I love point 6 as I am about to press the publish button, we listening to Slow dancing swaying to the music by Johnny Rivers. I wish you continued, love, light, optimism and the strength to conquer!!!!
Thank you for stopping by!
I wish you love, light, happiness and Freedom! Be safe out there!
Founder - I am the Change and Free Movement