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  • Writer's pictureTim Sanderson

Lockdown Lessons from the past

Updated: Oct 17, 2020

or How to survive NOT catching COVID19.

There has been a lot of angst around about 'lockdown' as a tool of epidemiological containment. Equally this has raised the hackles of many who have looked at the costs to themselves and their income or business and balked at the consequences for 'The Economy' or business generally.There seems to be a need for some kind of Dunkirk spirit to eventuate in the community, but this has proved a bridge too far for a minority. In Australia this has been due to the lack of national leadership and the politicisation of the virus in favour of profit taking. This has cost lives. The issue isn't that we have a choice, it is that we do in fact have to respond together to beat COVID19. This is how all epidemics are finally beaten, not by fiat issued by government or health authorities, but by communities standing/banding together and working as a cohesive unit to bring the infection to an end, district by district, town by town, city by city and nation by nation.

One aspect of this collective action is to manage lockdown. We haven't seen the end of these lockdowns, and some of us will need to do this again perhaps a number of times in order to survive not catching COVID19. This begs the question, how do you actually do this without going completely nuts? What is likely to occur is that more people will refuse to cooperate and consequently more people will become infected. This is already happening in Europe and is a key characteristic of a 'Second Wave,' a seemingly deadlier and more contagious outbreak as a result of people perhaps not being able or willing to stand for any more restrictions.

For those who do 'isolate' and 'lock down' the potential feels very bleak. However, there are voices we should listen to, voices from the past, people who have endured 'lockdown' in much worse circumstances and with greater privation than those of us blessed to live in wealthy western democracies. Let's listen to some of those voices, it might help?

Anne Frank

Anne Frank spent her days in hiding in a cramped space, with her family and another for 761 days. She kept a diary. It's not great literature, but is a voice of survival, powerful because of her age and because she represents the persecuted Jews of World War II, a child with a future ahead of her. Cut cruelly short in Bergen-Belsen Concentration camp. Her voice is one of courage and hope. Listen to her voice. Do as she did. Write, a diary, a novel, a play, be creative and free your mind as she did.

Juliane Koepcke

A different survival story. A place crash in the Amazon Jungle, A sole survivor, Juliane survived, on her own for 11 days eventually walking out of the jungle. A story I remember from my childhood when it actually occurred, her descriptions of coping with leeches and life threatening events (She survived a fall of 3,000 metres, still strapped to her seat.) tells us something about 'resilience' before we invented the word. She didn't know whether she would escape the jungle, she was simply determined to do so. That's the word. Determined.

So let's be 'determined' to survive the loss of agency in order to come out alive (uninfected) at the end of the pandemic.

Helen Klaben Kahn

Another plane crash. This time in the Yukon, both she and the pilot, Ralph Flores, were injured, but survived 49 days in shocking weather conditions until they were finally rescued. They had no winter gear to speak of, no rifle or supplies. Somehow they survived on next to nothing, staying in a cramped 'lean to' that flores built to shelter them from the elements. She said “Most people expect they would not be able to cope with a crisis and it was a great experience to find out that I could.” They read, there were books in the plane. They used their imagination pretending melted snow for water was different flavours of soup. So read, and find ways to engage your imagination.

Jason Rezaian

Jason was imprisoned in Iran for 544 days and he has some advice for all of us about surviving lockdown.( ) He talks about exercise ( among other things)

Exercise is of course one of the things that everyone should do, especially when confined. For some there is the opportunity to get out and walk or run or cycle. But having a home based routine is also important. Jason suggests walking around the house, again and again if necessary to help you keep your cardiovascular system ticking over. Yoga, Tai Chi, Mindfulness breathing exercises would all help to maintain sanity in an insane situation.

This is not a comparison exercise, but recognising that we are privileged and that we are being asked to do something for the whole community, not just ourselves. This situation requires us to face our own values and limitations. These ideas and stories of how other people have coped are meant to be an inspiration, not an instruction manual. There are now a great many people writing and sharing their 'lockdown' survival tips on line. Google and see what else you can find to help you do this to help you survive 'not catching COVID19!'

Suggestions of things to do during a lockdown, websites

Two lists here from some UK magazines, which may have some sanity saving ideas you can use.

Looking after your mental health:

Research undertaken during the first wave lockdown in Australia, interesting reading.

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