21 ways to stay optimistic during lockdown

Thapelo Mokoena. (Photo: Herman Eloff/Channel24)
Thapelo Mokoena. (Photo: Herman Eloff/Channel24)


Lockdown is here and while we are all at risk of contracting the virus, we can’t allow fear to overwhelm us. We have to stay hopeful. 

Here, South African celebrities, businesspeople, sports stars, and health care professionals share some of the ways they plan to keep their mental health in check.  

1. Make space for different emotions, says Charmagne Mavudzi

Charmagne Mavudzi, head of marketing and communications for Volvo Car South Africa has sectioned off parts of her home where she can work, relax, and exercise. "I think it’s important to create room for the different emotions you are going to go through. Having physical space dedicated to this, will help me work through everything in a healthy and happy way."

2. Make time for your spouse, says Reuben Riffel

Celebrity chef and businessman, Reuben Riffel will be making time in his family’s daily schedule to spend time with his wife. “She’s got a routine going for the family, which she’s very good at. And we have included some alone time together after the kids go to bed. We’ll have one glass together a night, and maybe on a Friday I’ll spoil myself to another,” he jokes. He’ll also be catching up on admin, spending time with his children, and putting out some cooking videos with Dale Steyn on his Instagram.

3. Keep the faith, says celebrity vlogger Kandy Kane

Celebrity beauty vlogger Kandy Kane says, “My faith will keep me positive. We can lose everything, but the one thing the virus cannot take, is your faith. That thought is what keeps me positive.”

4. Affirmations, affirmations, affirmations say Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp

Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp, TV actress and Jacaranda FM radio presenter says: "Affirmations are very important. I read them to my children and to myself every day. At night, I also become very quiet and pick up an inspirational book. I like to memorise conclusions and use them on my radio show to help my listeners stay positive."

5. Give back, says psychologist Claire Moore

Counselling Psychologist Claire Moore M. Soc. Sc. (Couns. Psych.) says during a crisis it is human nature to go into survival mode and think only of ourselves and our own. "Instead, climb out of yourself and think of what you can do to help others. Donate money if you can or make a point of calling those people who you know will be alone during this time."

6. Snack it, says Thapelo Mokoena

Thapelo Mokoena, Trackers star and Volvo brand ambassador says: "Having your favourite snack is everything. That one spoil at least once a day, in small quantities, will keep you positive." Mokoena advocates for daily cardiovascular workouts to elevate the heart rate and to get the endorphins circulating: "The motivation is that you’ve put in a good cardio workout, so you’ve made room for that snack!"

7. Take care of your appearance says image consultant Wendy Hind

Image consultant and motivational speaker Wendy Hind says: "Personal packaging is a key step towards building and sustaining a positive, healthy self-esteem. Homebound doesn’t mean PJs all day! Get up, get dressed and get going! Getting dressed each morning (hair and makeup too) will give you a sense of purpose and structure. Use this time to relook your personal sense of style. Perhaps reorganise your wardrobe to create a functional, fashionable place that inspires you and makes you happy. Remember, when you look good on the outside, you feel good on the inside straight away.  Be humble. Be grateful. Be kind. Breathe. Prioritise. Embrace. Love…each other and love yourself."

8. Take up a new hobbie, says Sho Madjozi

#JohnCena singer, Sho Madjozi, is encouraging people to take the time to start a new project that you wouldn’t otherwise have the time for. "Start writing that book or learn a new skill like a new language or playing an instrument."

9. Practice mindfulness says business coach Terry Dearling

"Considering what we are about to go through, it is vital as a leader, to decide what story we are going to tell ourselves about this experience,” says Terry Dearling, business coach and previous HR Director for Barloworld Equipment. "The story you tell yourself, shapes your experience. These three weeks could be depressing, frustrating and leave bad memories. Or they could be an opportunity to build a new relationship with yourself, and possibly with those you might’ve neglected. We have a chance to start again."

10. Workout online says clinical dietician Kath Megaw

Clinical dietician, Kath Megaw will be doing online yoga and workout classes: “I’m going to continue to find ways to eat healthy fresh foods, and keep fit. Trying new recipes is on my list too."

11. Watch TED Talks, says Derek Watts

Carte Blanche presenter Derek Watts plans to watch a lot of TED Talks as well as sign up to edX online courses which gives you free access to top university material. "I plan to read at least one book - I’m a slow reader - and exercise daily. That’s all until I get called out on an urgent Carte Blanche story."

12. Take the time to rest, says SA cricketer Kyle Abbott

South African cricketer Kyle Abbott plans to rest, read and fix broken things around the house. "It’s a unique opportunity to be able to take a break from the modern world of high-speed day-to-day living. I read the other day that we forget that our grandfathers and their fathers were called to war, and we are being called to stay at home - we will be okay," he comments.

13. Be grateful says celebrity plastic surgeon Dr Deon Weyers

Celebrity plastic surgeon Dr Deon Weyers will be writing down three things he’s grateful for, every day. "These will be things I take for granted when I am home, and things I may realise I usually take for granted now that we can’t leave the house. For example, I was asked recently to write an article for a journal, but I couldn’t find the time to do it. I now see this three-week period as a good opportunity to do that."

14. Change a habit says Bottomless Coffee Band

Bottomless Coffee Band have called on fans to use this time to make a positive change in their lives. "You can change a habit in 21 days, so we’re asking fans to take the 21-day habit change challenge," says Esté Rabé. "It must be fun, and not more doom and gloom. We think it’s a good opportunity to walk out of your home on 16 April, with a brand new, good for you, habit," she concludes.

15. Call on a friend, says businesswoman Michelle Lewis

Business owner of Have Your Say, Michelle Lewis says she’ll be making sure her routine includes FaceTiming friends and family daily. "Not only do I want to make sure that they are in good health, but seeing their faces and hearing their voices will lift my spirits. Just the other day we celebrated our 2-year-old’s birthday using Zoom conferencing. All the grannies, grandads, aunties, uncles joined the call to sing happy birthday. They were all out of sync, but it didn’t matter - they were still there to wish her. It brought tears to my eyes. And now the older generation know how to video conference, so we’re upskilling them on the journey too!"

16. Plan your next expedition, says Kingsley Holgate

Kingsley Holgate, South African explorer, humanitarian and author will be using the time to carefully plan his next geographic and humanitarian expedition. "Africa maps, scribbled notes, and reference books will be spread out everywhere," he comments. Holgate is encouraging fellow South Africans to plot their next adventure with friends. "Be it to the Richtersveld, across the Kalahari, wildlife reserves, fishing, beaches, mountains and lakes. Plan and dream up a great journey - Africa will still be here."

17. Consider homeschooling, says Olwethu Leshabane

"We’ll be home-schooling our three children and doing a lot of baking, cooking and arts and crafts," says super-mom and entrepreneur Olwethu Leshabane. She’ll also be running her podcast and blog from home with her team all working remotely.

18. Get ahead on your studies, says Odwa Ndungane

Rugby sports star Odwa Ndungane will be taking the time to complete his degree: "I registered to study part-time BCom in business management this year and I plan to use this time to focus on this and most importantly enjoy the time with my young family."

19. Create a rest gap in your day, says AutoTrader CEO George Mienie

George Mienie, businessman and CEO of AutoTrader says that working from home can become all consuming. "Previously physically leaving the office creates a temporary end to my work day. With this commute deleted out of my life, I find I’m working a lot more. I’m trying to create my previous work routine at home, where I say goodbye to family and to go work. This should get me back those rest gaps in my day," he comments.

20. Keep the kids fit, says Letshego Zulu

Letshego Zulu, author and businesswoman, says that her daughter’s physical activity is just as important as her own. "I'll be jumping on her trampoline with her, playing swingball in our garden, hide and seek, and imaginary soccer. I've lined up some art activities, puzzles and some books to read too. Four-year-olds get bored so easily that I have to keep switching things up for her."

21. Remind yourself that you’re doing this for the greater good

Keep reminding yourself that you are staying at home to save the lives of your loved ones and fellow South Africans. Rest and stay calm, in the knowledge, that this too shall pass.

For more tips, advice, and activities to try out during lockdown click here. 

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(Compiled by Michelle Lewis)