Let’s rip the plaster off: load shedding is here to stay. While you’ve probably reserved these two-hour (or traumatic four-hour windows) for rage-scrolling through your newsfeed, finding something vaguely original on Instagram, or staring at your walls—this unguided approach won’t serve you well in the long run.
Here at MH we believe in making the most of any opportunity, even if that means squeezing lemonade out of Eskom’s unwanted lemons. These electricity-free windows are almost a forced digital cleanse, which—if used right—can give you perspective, a cardio session and the mental boost you need to weather life’s other problems when the lights are back on.
Load shedding? No problem: here’s how you can make the most out of your next session off the grid:
1. Get Introspective
Every load shedding window is marked by a sudden halt of a hundred different beeps, whirs, and other mechanical clinks. And while, in the past, this may have prompted a fifteen-minute rant about our much-loved electricity provider (or denier); it’s time to take a leaf out of Depeche Mode’s book and enjoy the silence.
While you might be gatvol of the constant advice to meditate, there’s merit to taking a deep breath and getting present. There’s a reason the number of people who practise some form of meditation tripled between 2014 and 2017, a number that’s still steadily rising. Studies have found that regular sessions can ease anxiety and stress, ward off depression, help you battle your addictions, and even take the sting out of certain aches and pains (even DOMS).
Plus, you don’t need to sign up with some guru of the month, app stores are stocked with a plethora of tried-and-tested meditation downloads. We like Insight Timer, a free app that can either take you on guided breathing work designed to target particular issues—such as sleep problems, stress or burnout—or lets you customise your own meditation timer, right down to the ambience that’ll be playing through your entire sit down.
2. Commune with Nature
You can get a lot done in two hours (and even more in four). So, there’s no reason to leave your apartment or house behind and head to the great outdoors.
Even just a fifteen walk in nature can do more than just ramp up your step count. Participants in one study who embarked on a journey into greener surroundings noticed significant improvements in their cognitive function, ability to regulate their emotions and general mental health. Best part? Those were the results of just one 15-minute jaunt per week. Imagine the rewards you could reap during Stage 6.
3. Open a Book
In this day in age, the good old paperback has taken a backseat to Twitter, Instagram, or Reddit. But while social media has been linked with stress and other not-so-healthy outcomes, paging through a good read can do exactly the opposite. Reading for just six minutes could reduce your stress levels by up to 68%. Need some recs? We’ve been enjoying All In! by Chris Bertish, a novel recounting the stand-up paddle boarder’s 7,500km journey across the ocean.
4. Play a Game (or Better Yet: Finish a Puzzle)
Playing video games might not be the mindless pursuit your parents warned you about. New research has found that regular gaming sessions may be able to help bust stress, reduce anxiety and help lower your risks of depression—provided you’re playing them in moderation. Factor in the fact that a Nintendo Switch will set you back far less than an inverter and you’ll have access to the ultimate load shedding survival tool.
However, you can bag many of the same benefits by sitting down to finish a puzzle. This stimulating—but not overly challenging—activity could be exactly what your brain ordered after a stressful day at the WFH office. Just start small: that 10 000-piece behemoth can wait until you’re more experienced.
5. Squeeze in a Workout
You don’t have to go to the gym to build muscle. Seriously, you don’t even need to leave the house. There are plenty of ways to put your body to work with minimal kit that will still net you game-changing results. The proof? Try this 15-minute burpee workout created by BJ Gaddour. You’ll start by doing six reps each minute, using any leftover seconds you’ve bagged to rest. Once you’re able to keep this up across 15-minutes, level up for the next workout by attempting an extra two, and so on. Burpees will ramp up your metabolism, helping you shed kilos and add muscle.
6. Clean-Up Act
While it’s difficult to summon up the energy to tackle chores when Eskom is subjecting us to year-round torture, your hours sans electricity is the perfect time to tidy up. And your exertions over brooms, sponges or Verimark gadgets aren’t just going to leave things looking shiny; research has shown that dedicating some part of your day to set things right can boost your mental health. According to one study, this act can give you a sense of control, helping you feel calm even when the load shedding schedule is out of your hands. It’s also an engaging activity that will benefit your cognitive function.