Surviving the lockdown

We have just stepped into the 4th week of the second lockdown in this pandemic, and we don’t seem to have the end in sight. Last week, we saw our receptionists sobbing in the tearoom, after a long day on the phone dealing with frustrated callers with various demands. Our nurses have been administering one vaccine every five minutes per nurse for the whole day, with a short 30mins lunch break to catch some sun light. Never in the history of Castle Hill, had so much, owed by so many, to such a few. Thank you.

Let me share some of my thoughts with you on how to cope with the lockdown. Everyone’s circumstance is different but I’m sure there’s a thing or two we could learn from each other. The following opinions are mine and they do not represent the views of any government organizations that I work for. 

Setting goals. I spent two weeks in a quarantine hotel in Sydney after returning from a work trip. It was in a 6x4m square hotel room, facing the sandstone wall under the harbor bridge, meals provided three times a day. Stepping outside of the door could land me in a lot of troubles. The welfare checks at 0900 and 1800 were the only times that we could possibly interact with another human face to face. There’s more freedom, and chances of talking to another person in the Silverwater jail than hotel quarantine. The question is, how did I deal with this? I set a few goals, all reasonably achievable:

  • 3 lots of 50, or 150 push-ups per day in total
  • Run a total of 5km in the room daily, wall to wall
  • Finish General Mattis’ reading list
  • Learn watercolours to basic level with a focus on urban drawing

Having goals gave me a sense of purpose, one of the many difficulties in isolation was the loss of orientation, like a ship in the middle of the ocean caught up in the storm without a compass. I set these goals and told myself that I need to be stronger, and slightly smarter at the end of the quarantine. You could do it too, set yourself the goal of having a six pack, not beer belly by the end of September, or any body shape that when you look at yourself in the mirror and say, 
“Geez that looks cool”. 

Some of you may ask, what if my goal is to become a better soccer player? when I can’t train with my team over the next few weeks, what should I do? When group training is impossible, continue your daily training routines to make sure that you are individually ready. Do some research on leadership, team tactics and organizational skills. Leadership in particular, will be useful for other domains of your life too. Review some of the Premier League video clips and find out from the top teams on how they handle situations such as..

A team is losing 1-0, how did different teams organize an effective offense and score? What worked and what didn’t work?

Watch your diet. When a person is under tremendous amount of stress, he/she is likely to eat more sugar than usual. While sugar can boost your mood in a short term, having a high sugar level can depress your mood and immunity. You may have noticed that shoppers in the supermarkets have been loading up their trolleys with soft drinks and snacks. One can of soft drink a day may get you a bit happier in the short run, three cans a day will get you diabetes, period. 

If water is too boring for you, try carbonated water (or Sprudelwasser in Deutsche), in a sensible quantity. 

Exercise. Many of us have already been working out from home, and it is unnecessary to explain why exercise is important both physically and mentally, you know them all. In the 1960s, when the US Marines were travelling on ships to every corner of the world looking for Crayon (you know the context?), the gyms on the ships were so small that it was virtually impossible for everyone onboard to use on a daily basis. Their Force Fitness Instructors (ours are called PTI) came up with Marines Daily Seven, a set of seven exercises that were essential to keep the Marines fit, agile and ready to fight, in case there’s one in the pub during the next port call. This set of exercise can easily be done in the comfort of your own home in under 10 minutes. Look it up.

Read. Stay tuned to the latest development in the pandemic, make sure you get the information from reliable sources. The ones that I trust are ABC News and NSW Health websites. Sadly, there has been an increasing number of clickbaits, and misleading- information on social media platforms. A few weeks ago, one patient asked whether she could have Sinova* (not Pfizer/ AZ) as she was convinced of its safety and efficacy based on what she read on a Communist- run phone app. I advised her to check the facts and discuss with her life/ health insurance providers before getting her preferred Sinova* vaccine from her comrades. 

Read some books that would improve your mental resilience, Meditation by Marcus Arelius helped an American pilot who had been kept as a POW for years during the Vietnam War. By the way, it is the book that I carry with me in every work trip. If you are having a hard time with your boss, read One bullet away by Nathaniel Fick. What I’m reading now? It’s “Red Star over the Pacific- 2nd edition” by Yoshihara and Holmes. 

Good luck and stay safe.
Dr Armand Edison