What we learn during our ‘digital survival mode’ will serve us well in the future. Picture: Pexels
What we learn during our ‘digital survival mode’ will serve us well in the future. Picture: Pexels

3 ways to stay sane in an uncertain world

By Lifestyle reporter Time of article published Apr 25, 2020

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Now that the lockdown has been extended to Level 4, there's little comfort in the fact that life as we know it is far from normal. Maybe you crave human interaction or itching for a job in the park.

Whatever it is, social isolation is bound to start having effects on your mental wellbeing. But there are ways to keep the proverbial walls from closing in.

Keep that critical voice quiet

We all have that one ‘voice’ in our head that continually bombards us with self-criticism and another ‘voice’ that is more reasonable and accepting, says counseling psychologist Claire Moore who warns against the growing critical voice in our minds.

"When the negative and critical ‘voice’ is more dominant, we are constantly trying to escape by being busy, being successful or being with other people. However, when the positive and reasonable ‘voice’ is more dominant, we are more likely to be comfortable in moments of quiet solitude,” Moore said.

“This lockdown is a wonderful opportunity for us to learn to be without the things that prop up our self-esteem and to develop the ability to exist without external validation of our worth,” she advises.

Moore encourages all to become aware that our true value lies in our innate character, the person we were born to be and would be if we lived in a perfect world. She also encourages people to realise that character is less related to behavior than you may think.

“Many people have the misconception that their positive character traits no longer exist if they cannot act on them or if no one else can benefit from them. The reality is that we can continue to be a kind person even if we are unable to show kindness to anyone, we can continue to be intelligent even if no one else
can see it and we can continue to have a good work ethic even when we have no work to do,” she points out.

Moore suggests that key to contentment is to accept that you are good enough without other people, without productivity and without material possessions. “You are good enough because the value in your character continues to exist even when you are doing nothing. Many people fear that believing they are good enough will result in them becoming demotivated. It doesn’t, it allows you to become your best self,” she points out.

Give yourself a pep talk

Businesswoman Lynette Ntuli shares her team (and self) pep talk. “I know it’s all starting to feel real and too much. The cabin fever. The enormity of the crisis. The information fatigue. The people we can’t support or console. All I can tell you, is what I tell my team - hang in there inmates, we will pass this test!’’ says Ntuli.

Ntuli is the CEO of Innate Investment Solutions, a professional services firm in the property, infrastructure development and enterprise asset management sector. “Don’t let the news, timelines, and opinions, panic rush you. 

"How we respond to each day of the next six months will determine our ability to overcome the greatest curveball that the universe has thrown at us.”

She encourages others to approach the ‘new normal’ with agility and flexibility, and to give yourself time to open up to the great changes in your reality, perspective, and personal narrative. “These shifts are not just economical, political or social, they are deeply personal. Take your time - we are people in progress, so pace yourself.”

Ntuli does this by slowing her normally rapid fire reactions and tunes them into responding mindfully to the demands of each day. “I am definitely engaging more, gathering perspectives and guidance before I make decisions. I’m asking deeper questions when something isn’t sitting right, because it's so easy to assume when certain changes and activities aren’t happening in plain sight or in front of you. 

"I am pausing criticism, judgement and doubt before I pass it over a situation, interaction or a conversation. Everyone is going through something, so I am definitely managing my energy and expectations.”

Look to a brighter future

What we learn during our ‘digital survival mode’ will serve us well in the future, says Volvo’s head of marketing and communication Charmagne Mavudzi.

“The upside of being isolated is that we’re playing catch up with the world in terms of technology use. We’ve all turned in to early adopters of the world’s latest technology because of our quest to connect with loved ones and to work remotely,” she points out.

Mavudzi says that South Africa has typically been a country that lags behind the rest of the world when it comes to the use of new online products and services. “With the behavioural change we’re seeing locally, we could see this stimulate local innovation and well as expedite new international products to reach our shores. Especially those services that offer a solution to lessening the spread of the virus” she points out.

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