45 Benefits of Eskom’s Loadshedding
It’s a given, South Africans are frustrated and stressed by Eskom, and the government who have plunged Mzansi into darkness yet again with the crippling Stage 4 loadshedding. What a fiasco!
However, allow me to indulge a little; possibly shedding some ‘light’ (humour?) on these dark times. My contribution will drastically differ from other ‘bright spark’s’ rhetoric in this electric debate. Perhaps I’m the epitome of an eternal optimist, maybe practical, or somewhat an annoyingly pragmatic voice of reason – you decide …
Simply an ordinary SA farm girl I was brought up on home-grown produce, and unashamedly clothed by Mom’s skilled sewing, or village hand-me-downs. On the farm in the 70’s, electricity was a luxury; if and when the generator worked. At best, it lasted a few hours. Since lights flickered on and off, kerosene lamps were standard fixtures. Accustomed to this, I learnt to be unafraid and move around in the dark. For fun, I’d occasionally sneak out the bathroom window to check if, and how, the farm animals slept at night.
Consequently, I inadvertently learnt to make do with what little we had – to improvise – and, make lemonade from lemons. Typically the good ol’ Saffrican farmer’s saying of “a boer maak a plan!” is so inherent. Whenever life throws inevitable curveballs, I naturally ask myself two simple questions, “what else is possible” and “how does it (life) get better than this?” The insightful dark humour of Monty Python’s classical song is also helpful:
‘Always look on the bright side of life (Whistle)
Always look on the right side of life (Whistle)
(C’mon Brian, cheer up!)’
Granted, being left in the dark maybe frightening for some, while it’s exciting for others – especially those of us who love the outdoors and camping. Eskom unwittingly provided the perfect opportunity to ‘get back to basics’, hone in our survival skills, and quite literally, ‘camp-out’ inside our homes. But more importantly, Eskom forced us into making healthier lifestyle choices, which echoes the wisdom of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s, “the first wealth is health.”
As a Stress therapist, and understanding of the universal law of duality, I naturally look for obvious benefits or gifts in stressful, dire situations. No matter how gloomy things appear to be, there’s always a blessing with every curse. In my book, Stress Gone! and during talks I explain how stress is not only an early warning signal, but also a catalyst for change, a teacher and guide, as well as an opportunity to motivate and inspire too. Equally, Eskom’s enforced daily loadshedding saga provides many benefits, blessings and opportunities.
“What ….?” I hear you gasp incredulously. Yes, my conclusion isn’t entirely bizarre, but something I consciously choose to focus upon, and here’s why:
One evening, caught unaware by Eskom’s stage 4 downgrade, both my laptop and phone batteries died shortly after loadshedding began. Desperate to complete my work, I cursed aloud. Irritated, I stepped away from my desk onto the balcony for fresh air, and was greeted by an exquisite pastel sunset.
With the diminishing daylight, I quickly put together a salad for dinner, which I enjoyed whilst soaking up this magnificent African coastal sunset. My mood radically shifted. No longer annoyed, I relaxed in state of appreciation, feeling grateful and blessed for this glorious end to a busy day’s work. Time stood still as I consciously breathed, reflecting upon this special moment surrounded by splendid mountains, the sea and sunset. As this attitude of gratitude filled my being, spontaneously my heart opened, and I smiled … ahhh, I sighed.
Being peaceful, my contemplative mind became creative. Like ripples gently caressing a lake, a list of benefits of no electricity flashed before me. Instead of the familiar, ‘ah fok Marelize’ reaction, I found myself smiling broadly, and silently saying, ‘thank you Eskom!’
Educating an audience during my Stress Gone! talks is vital. Therefore, drawing their attention to the harrowing South African stress related statistics becomes paramount. My objective being to inspire positive health and wellbeing changes especially since employee mental health is largely ignored by corporations, and individuals alike.
Statistically South African’s stress levels are extremely high – I wish to disrupt this horrific status quo because it’s totally unacceptable, AND must be changed:
- We’re the most unhealthy nation in the world
- We’re also one of the most unhappy countries worldwide
- Bloomberg’s 2013 study confirmed South Africa is the 2nd most stressed country in the world – a mere 0.1% behind Nigeria.
- Absenteeism costs our economy in excess of R12-16 billion per annum, and burnout (stress) is the number one contributor.
- Although Crime Statistics SA (2015) confirms 49 people are murdered daily, a whopping 210 people die of heart related illness every single day – stress being the biggest contributor thereof.
- Lastly, the medical fraternity confirms 90% of all illness and disease is stress related.
In conclusion, stress in SA is a major mental health issue (crisis?). This is not only ignored by individuals, but corporations and society as a whole. When will this denial stop? Wearing stress as a ‘badge of honour’ serves no one, least of all you or your family, particularly when struck by a fatal heart related illness! It could have been prevented. I sincerely trust my brutal, disruptive message hits home, at least enough to dissipate the cognitive dissonance associated with stress, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal ideations etc.
That said, here’s my list of 45 benefits Eskom’s loadshedding inadvertently provides. Almost all can reduce the detrimental effects of stress, whilst improving health and well-being too. Without electricity you can now enjoy:
1. Raw, uncooked vegan meals with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables: a far healthier alternative to cooked, microwave heated meals
2. No meat is highly beneficial – join the massive global vegan movement to curb climate change and reverse environmental damage (caused largely by industrial meat farming practises), and thus, reduce animal cruelty too. Start with meatless Mondays. Then reduce daily meat consumption. You’ll also save money, improve your health and wellbeing exponentially, lose weight, sleep better and live longer.
3. Improved culinary skills: find recipes that avoid cooking. If you must cook, keep it to a minimum. Use a solar cooker, gas or pizza oven
4. Get off the grid: invest in solar, sooner rather than later
5. Romantic candlelight dinners: beneficial for relationships
6. Stargazing: without the interference of lights, the night sky becomes spectacular
7. Afraid or fumbling in the dark: families or couples are more likely to touch, and hold onto one another in a caring, supportive manner. Today humans are touch deprived; thanks to tech fixations
8. Cuddling: being in the dark is a great opportunity to cuddle and snuggle – Cuddling has many benefits
9. Sex: “let’s talk about sex, baby!” – sex provides stress relief and exercise (2-in-1)
10. Real conversations: without tech (TV or phone) distractions we’re more inclined to engage in discussions
11. No Wifi: reducing detrimental effects of EMRs (electromagnetic radiation) is a positive health benefit
12. No TV or social media: less mindless drivel, drama, fake news and negativity
13. Tech disconnections: beneficial opportunities for mind and body to unwind
14. ‘Power’ naps: sneak in a quick snooze
15. Meditate: without tech disturbances spend quality time alone for meditation
16. Reflections: write your gratitude journal and say affirmations
17. Goals: review and focus on goal setting
18. Planning: spend time planning your day or week ahead
19. Relaxation: after a long day, enjoy a hot soaking bath by candlelight. Add lavender oil for extra relaxation benefits. This can help you sleep well too
20. Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise!
21. Quality sleep in a pitch dark room is beneficial, more especially without flashing / glowing lights of house alarms, bedside clock radios or TVs. Sleep deprivation is a major contributor towards mental health issues, illness and disease. Quality sleep heals body and mind naturally
22. Exercise: use Eskom downtime to walk, jog, hike, go to gym, do yoga
23. Be in Nature: find a park to jog or walk in, and hug a tree – it’s free!
24. Earth yourself: walk barefoot on grass – this reduces accumulated static energy
25. Suntan: 10 minutes of sunshine is the best free vitamin D source
26. Coffee: a stimulant and addictive habit. No hot water? What a great opportunity to begin reducing your daily addiction
27. Drink more still water: a far healthier option. Helps hydrate and detoxes the body, plus aids brain functions. See Water Cure
28. Reduced overtime: no burning the midnight oil – get a good night’s sleep instead – tomorrow is another day. Everything will work out!
29. Prioritise: get important things done, instead of procrastinating
30. Important versus urgent: learn the difference – not everything is a crisis
31. Learning to say no: boundary setting is vital – this becomes easier when you have less time available to do what’s important
32. Improved work efficiency: regular breaks increase productivity and creativity
33. Surrender to what is, and let go – it will all work out – trust!
34. Don’t sweat the small stuff: ultimately it is ALL small stuff
35. Quality time: enjoy those things you don’t normally have time for – quality time with your children, family, exercise, read a book, garden, play with the dog, wash the car, house cleaning, a hobby etc
36. Simplify your life – less is more: consumerism is a global issue contributing towards vast environmental degradation. In just the last 45 years, we’ve destroyed 60% of the earth’s wildlife. Isn’t it time to take a brutally honest look at your lifestyle – do you really need more stuff? More appliances, electronics, gadgets and gizmos? After all, attachment to stuff causes enormous stress, anxiety, worry, trauma, fear – ironically, we’re born into this world with nothing, and take nothing when we depart … do we really need SO much stuff? Save money instead.
37. Get creative: make do, or make a plan, Stan!
38. Laughter: when all else fails, laugh it off
39. Choose to blessed or stressed, it’s your choice: what you think about, you bring about, and what you focus on expands. This applies equally to negative or positive aspects. Negativity clouds our days, relationships, causing misery and unhappiness. Positivity brightens our days – spreading happiness, love, laughter and joy.
40. Enjoy the ‘Sounds of Silence’ without the continual buzz and environmental noises of electrical gadgets. I chuckled at this social media meme: With immediate effect “Nkosi Sikilele Afrika” will be replaced with “Hello darkness my old friend …” (‘Sounds of Silence’ original song by Simon and Garfunkel)
41. United we stand: we’re all in the darkness together. Let’s focus on finding cost-effective, environmentally sound, sustainable green solutions – global innovations and sunshine abound – what alternatives can we tap into?
42. ANC: sadly, they shouldn’t get voted in again in the upcoming elections; unfortunately they’ve been responsible for far too much corruption, aka the ongoing Gupta saga at the root of Eskom’s downfall.
43. A rude awakening to choose one’s poison wisely: is Eskom a deliberate failure and intentional state capture? Urgent investigations are needed. Either Cyril Ramaphosa and his family i.e. Patrice Motsepe and Jeff Radebe take over Eskom, or the Chinese become SA’s latest colonisers. The other sinister option is the nuclear deal Zuma signed with Russia. Considering eight years later, Fukushima’s reactors are still spewing forth +-600 tonnes a day of radioactive toxic waste into the Pacific Ocean, nuclear should NEVER become an option anywhere on the globe, let alone in Mzanzi.
44. Reminder: Don’t vote ANC on May 8th 2019. I’m not a political person, but one thing I know; we ALL need electricity!
45. Humour: if it isn’t obvious, many of my tips shared have a humorous twist, but truth is truth. Use what works best for you, and please do share this with others. When all else fails, humour is best.
That said … c’mon Saffers stop whinging, stressing and live a little. Chill out and relax. Enjoy a much needed, albeit, a forced Eskom break … “always look on the bright side of life” (whistle) … make the most of these blackout benefits; you’ll miss them when they’re gone!
Thanks Eskom for contributing towards a healthier society. I’m off to relax, suntan, drink my water and enjoy a colourful, vibrant, healthy vegan salad!
If anyone needs a Stress therapy session, stress management talk or my Stress Gone! book, I’ll be back at my desk in a couple of hours 🙂
Shine your own light brightly
PS: Charge your phone in the car: you may need to make an important call for stress relief, depression, anxiety, trauma or anger management … I help people unburden these “dark” psychological challenges, and they immediately feel relieved, happy and “light”!
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