Take A Note from Nelson Mandela in dealing with the Corona Virus Lockdown
On his arrival to the prison, one of the prison wardens smirked: “This is the Island. This is where you will die.” Pause for a moment and imagine what lockdown meant for Nelson Mandela, who was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiring to overthrow the state.
Except for a few affected cities, no one country has fully enacted a total ban on its entire population movement like you see in state prisons or movies. What we currently have are emergency protocols requiring families and individuals not to step out except for basic necessities, in other to flatten the curve. However, many have found it challenging and somewhat strenuous on their mental health.
This community isolation measures that is crucial in keeping the daily number of disease cases at a manageable level for medical providers as meant, personal daily routines have been shattered and reduced to monotonous tasks within a confined space.
Which ultimately makes one wonder, how did the former president of South Africa cope with 27 years in prison? Is there any other level of Isolation one could possibly compare to that of Nelson Mandela in modern times? Like the many of us in the current coronavirus lockdown, one of his major while in prison was the clear monotony of daily task and challenges.
As he put it:
Prison life is about routine: each day like the one before; each week like the one before it, so that the months and years blend into each other.
The daily routine of Prisoner 46664 consisted of grueling manual labour – working in a quarry to dig out limestone and using heavy hammers to smash rocks into gravel. Regardless of how draining this was, Nelson did not use it as an excuse to abandon his exercise regime. Lockdown shouldn't be an excuse to become lazy and loose one’s structure and daily processes.
Madiba was always up at 5am in his damp 2.1m squared cell which is not even the size of a standard one-bedroom toilet in London. “I attempted to follow my old boxing routine of doing road work and muscle-building,” he said.
He’d start with running on the spot for 45 minutes, followed by 100 fingertip push-ups, 200 sit-ups, 50 deep knee-bends and calisthenic exercises learnt from his boxing days. He carried out this exercise Mondays to Thursdays, and then rest for three days. This continued even during his several spells in solitary confinement.
As there is no timeline on how long the temporary lockdown will last for, we can take a note from Nelson, physical fitness played a key role in his sanity during his imprisonment. it's important to keep oneself active in order to release pent-up tension and reduce feelings of fear and worry.
Exercise decreases stress hormones while it increases endorphins—your body's “feel-good’ chemicals—giving your mood a natural boost.